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The Hero of the Reformation, the Greatest of the 

Teuton Church Fathers, and the Father of 

Protestant Church Literature 

















Vol. I. 






Copvrigiit, 1904, 



This introduction or prospectus is supplementary to that in the 
first vohtme on the Psalms, in that it likewise emphasizes, though 
from different view-points, the history and fruits, as well as the 
present need and future mission of the Protestant Classics of the 
greatest of all reformers in their relation to the development of 
the human race. 

Let us in this introduction briefly notice the following: The 
progress of the movement to translate and circulate Luther's 
works in English, and then emphasize the need of developing 
an interest to read them; first, because of the relation of Luther 
and his writings to the public library; and secondly, because as the 
chief of the Teuton Protestant Church Fathers, we need to under- 
stand Luther in his relation to the Greek and Latin Church Fathers, 
and our true historic relations to them all. 


With profound gratitude to Almighty God for his rich blessing 
bestowed upon the publication and quick sale of the first volume, 
Luther's Commentary on the Psalms, a book "the mourning soul 
cannot well be without," we now send forth the first volume of his 
Commentary on Genesis, with the confidence that those, who think 
with Melanchthon that "a single page of Luther contains more 
sound divinity than many whole volumes," will not change their 
opinion by studying this volume. Having purchased all the copies 
of Luther on Galatians and his Notes on the Gospels by Dr. P. 
Anstadt, and the right to reprint them, with two. other volumes 
about ready for the press, one by Prof. E. F. Bartholomew, D. D., 
and another by Dr. Bernbard Pick, our progress is encouraging, 
especially since the movement has taken an intcrsynodical char- 
acter with colaborers from every branch of our polyglot com- 


This volume on Genesis follows the first volume on the Psalms 
because the volumes ought to be published first that are needed 
most and will do the most good. As Professor of Old Testament 
Exegesis I found that like "Luther on the Psalms" so "Luther on 
Genesis" was not accessible to the English, Swedish, Norwegian 
and Danish students of theology, Prof. Bugge's Norwegian trans- 


lation of extracts from it being out of print. Therefore we believe 
this volume also will be welcomed by all Old Testament professors 
and students. While both these volumes will be a healthy correc- 
tive to the Old Testament critics, their contribution to the biblical 
knowledge and the devotional life of Protestantism cannot be ex- 
aggerated. Though first delivered to critical students they have 
also been extensively read in family worship, Luther began and 
closed his blessed ministry in the church of God not by fighting 
the Pope, but by expounding the Word of God. He began by 
explaining the whole Psalter from 1313 to 1516 (before 1517) form- 
ing volumes III and IV of the Kaiser Chronological Edition and 
closed his life's labors by expounding the first book of the Bible, 
Genesis, which composes volumes I and II of the St. Louis Walch 
edition. He commenced with the penitential Psalms of David and 
ended with Moses, the earliest writings of the Old Testament. 
The reason so many preachers and congregations neglect the Old 
Testament is because it is neglected in the seminaries. God willing 
a volume of Luther on the Prophetical Books will be issued and 
then in ail three years at the seminary the students may have some- 
thing of Luther on the Pentateuch, Psalms and Prophets. 
luther's words on public libraries. 

In the recent marvelous development of public libraries it is 
held if it is the duty of the state to teach the child to read for the 
welfare of the child and of the state, it is also the duty of the 
state to offer the child something to read. Hence the library is 
being supported by taxation like the public school, and the library 
buildings arc being erected near the high schools. It is as Presi- 
dent Roosevelt said while west recently, our civilization rests on 
the church, the school and the library. The library is the child 
of the church and school and will in turn greatly influence both. 
Luther, the founder of the Protestant Church, and the founder 
of the Public School, is also the founder of the Protestant Library. 
Yea, more, nearly four hundred years ago he" united the school 
and the library as is proved by the following: 

It is noteworthy that Luther closes his "Address to the Mayors 
and Aldermen of all the Cities of Germany in behalf of Christian 
Schools," which is considered by educators for its pioneer char- 
acter and statements of principles "the most important educational 
treatise ever written." by a powerful appeal in behalf of public 
libraries which I give in full from Luther on Education by Prof. 

Luther concludes that great educational treatise thus: "Finally, 
this must be taken into consideration by all who earnestly desire to 
see such schools established and the study of the languages 
preserved in the German states; that no cost nor pains should 
be spared to procure good libraries in suitable buildings, especially 
in the large cities that are able to afford it. For if a knowledge of 
the Gospel and of every kind of learning is to be preserved, it 
must be embodied in books, as the prophets and apostles did, as 
I have already shown. This should be done, not only that our 
spiritual and civil leaders may have something to read and study, 
but also that good books may not be lost, and that the arts and 
languages may be preserved, with which God has graciously fav- 
ored us. St. Paul was diligent in this matter, since he lays the in- 


junction upon Timothy, 'Give heed to reading,' I Tim 4:13, and 
directs him to bring the books, but especially the parchments lett 
at Troas, 2 Tim. 4:13. ..... ,j 1 

"All the kingdoms that have been distinguished in the world nave 
bestowed care upon this matter, and particularly the Israelites, 
among whom Moses was the first to begin the work, who com- 
manded them to preserve the book of the law in the ark of God, and 
put it under the care of Levites, that any one might procure copies 
from them. He even commanded the king to make a copy of tins 
book in the hands of the Levites, Among other duties, God direct- 
ed the Levitical priesthood to preserve and attend to the book.^ 
Afterwards Joshua increased and improved this library, as did 
subsequently Samuel, David, Solomon, Isaiah, and many kings 
and prophets. Hence have come to us the Holy Scriptures of tlie 
Old Testament, which would not otherwise have been collected 
and preserved, if God had not required such diligence in regard to 

it " 

"After this example collegiate churches and convents formerly 
founded libraries, although with few good books. And the injury 
from the neglect to procure books and good libraries, when there 
were men and books enough for that purpose, was afterwards per- 
ceived in the decline of every kind of knowledge; and instead ot 
good books, the senseless, useless, and hurtful books of tl.c monks, 
the Catholicon, Florista, Graecista, Labyrinthus, Dormi Retire 
(names of Latin grammars and collections of sermons), and the 
like were introduced by Satan, so that the Latin language was cor- 
rupted, and neither good schools, good instruction, nor good meth- 
ods of study remained. And as we see, the language and arts are, 
in an imperfect manner, recovered from fragments of old booKs 
rescued from the worms and dust; and every day men are seeking 
these literary remains, as people dig in the ashes of a ruined city 
after treasures and jewels. ., 

"Therein we have received our just due, and God has well re- 
compensed our ingratitude, in that we did not consider his bene- 
fits, and lay up a supply of good literature when we had time and 
opportunity, but neglected it, as if we were not concerned. He in 
turn instead of the Holy Scriptures and good books, suffered 
Aristotle and numberless pernicious books to come into use, which 
only lead us further from the Bible. To these were added the 
progeny of Satan, the monks and the phantoms of the universities, 
which we founded at incredible cost, and many doctors, preachers, 
teachers, priests and monks, that is to say, great, coarse fat fellows, 
adorned with red and brown caps, like swine led with a golden 
chain and decorated with pearls; and we have burdened ourselves 
with them, who have taught us nothing useful, but have made us 
more and more blind and stupid, and as a reward have consumed 
all our property, and filled all the cloisters, and indeed every cor- 
ner with dregs and filth of their unclean and noxious books, ot 
which we cannot think without horror. 

"Has it not been a grievous misfortune that a boy has rutiierto 
been obliged to study twenty years or longer in order to learn 
enough miserable Latin to become a priest and to read the mass' 
And whosoever has succeeded in this has been called blessed, and 
blessed the mother that has borne such a child I And yet he has 



remained a poor ignorant man all through life, and has been of 
no real service whatever. Everywhere we have had such teachers 
and masters, who have known nothing themselves, who have been 
able to teach nothing useful, and who have been ignorant even of 
i he right methods of learning and teaching. How has it came 
about? No books have been accessible but the senseless trash of 
the monks and sophists. How could the pupils and teacher differ 
from the books they studied? A crow does not hatch a dove, 
nor a fool make a man wise. That is the recompense of our in- 
gratitude, in that we did not use diligence in the formation of 
libraries, but allowed good books to perish, and bad ones to 

"But my advice is not to collect all sorts of hooks indiscriminately 
thinking only of getting a vast number together. I would have 
discrimination used, because it is not necessary to collect the com- 
mentaries of the jurists, the productions of all the theologians, the 
discussions of all the philosophers, and the sermons of all the 
monks. Such trash t would reject altogether, and provide my 
library only with useful books; and in making the selection I would 
advise with learned men. 

"In the first place, a library should contain the Holy Scriptures 
in Latin. Greek, Hebrew, German and other languages. Then the 
best and most ancient commentators in Greek, Hebrew and Latin. 

"Secondly, such books as are useful in acquiring the languages, as 
the poets and orators, without considering whether they are heath- 
en or Christian, Greek or Latin. For it is from such works that 
grammar must be learned. 

"Thirdly, books treating of all the arts and sciences. 

"Lastly, books on jurisprudence and medicine, though here dis- 
crimination is necessary, 

"A prominent place should be given to chronicles and histories, 
in whatever language they may be obtained; for they are wonder- 
fully u.ieful in understanding and regulating the course of the 
world, and in disclosing the marvelous works of God. O, how 
many noble deeds and wise maxims produced on German soil 
have been forgotten and lost, because no one at the time wrote 
them down; or if they were written, no one preserved the books; 
hence we Germans are unknown in other lands, and are called 
brutes that know only how to fight, eat and drink. But the Greeks 
and Romans, and even the Hebrews have recorded their history 
with such particularity, that even if a woman or child did anything 
noteworthy, all the world was obliged to read and know it; but 
we Germans are always Germans and will remain Germans. 

"Since God has so graciously and abundantly provided us with 
art, scholars and books, it is time for us to reap the harvest and 
gather for future use the treasures of these golden years. For it 
is to be feared (and even now it is beginning to take place) that 
new and different books will be produced, until at last, through 
the agency of the devil, the good books which are being printed 
will be crowded out by the multitude of ill-considered, senseless 
and noxious works. For Satan certainly designs that we should 
torture ourselves again with Catholicons, Florists, Modernists and 
other trash of the accursed monks and sophists, always learning, 
yet never acquiring knowledge. 



"Therefore, my dear sirs, I beg you to let my labor bear fruit with 
you. And though there be some who think me too insignificant to 
follow my advice, or who look down upon me as one condemned 
by tyrants; still let them consider that I am not seeking my own 
interest, but that of all Germany. And even if I were a fool, and 
yet should hit upon something good, no wise man should think it 
a disgrace to follow me. And if I were a Turk and heathen, and it 
should yet appear that my advice was advantageous, not for myself, 
but for Christianity, no reasonable person would despise my coun- 
sel. Sometimes a fool has given better advice than a whole com- 
pany of wise men. Moses received instruction from Jethro. 

"Herewith I commend you all to the grace of God. May he soften 
your hearts, and kindle therein a deep interest in behalf of the poor, 
wretched and neglected youth; and through the blessing of God 
may you so counsel and aid them as to attain to a happy Christian 
social order in respect to both body and soul, with all fullness and 
abounding plenty, to the praise and honor of God the Father, 
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen." 

Wittenberg, 1524. 

In his "Table Talk" Luther continues thus: "The multitude of 
books is a sreat evil. There is no measure or limit to this fever 
for writing; every one must be an author; some out of vanity, to 
acquire celebrity and make a name; others for the sake of lucre and 
gain. The Bible is now buried under so many commentaries, that 
the text is not regarded. I could wish that all my books were 
buried nine ells deep in the ground, by reason of the ill example 
they will give, every one seeking to imitate me in writing many 
books, with the hope of procuring fame. But Christ died not to 
favor our ambition and vain-glory, but that his name might be 

"The aggregation of large libraries tends to direct men's thoughts 
from the one great book, the Bible, which ought, day and night, 
to be in every man's hand. My object, my hope, in translating the 
Scriptures, was to check the so prevalent production of new works, 
and so to direct men's study and thoughts more, closely to the 
divine Word, Never will the writings of mortal man in any re- 
spect equal the sentences inspired by God. We must yield the 
place of honor to the prophets and apostles, keeping ourselves 
prostrate at their feet as we listen to their teaching. I would not 
have those who read my books, in these stormy times, devote one 
moment to them which they would otherwise have consecrated to 
the Bible." 

The foregoing literal quotations on the library; its divine origin 
and its biblical and ecclesiastical development from the time of 
Moses; its interlingual and international importance; its satanic 
and anti-Christ-like dangers; its true mission and relation to the 
church, school, family and state; the comprehensive sample cata- 
logue of a model library; and the words that when libraries tend 
to direct men's thoughts from or against the one great Book they 
are complete failures; these and other like thoughts of Luther, who 
was born only 15 years after the death of Guthenburg. his country- 
man, the inventor of printing; these words so warm, clear and wise 
of the hero of the Reformation, uttered nearly 400 years ago, prove 



that Luther and not Franklin was the father or founder of modern 
libraries of printed books and documents. 

In W. T. Fletcher's "Public Libraries In America," of the Colum- 
bian Knowledge Series, published in Boston, 1899, we read on page 
10, "But when did the public library movement begin? Not even 
the Reformation, with its tremendous assertion of the right of man 
to spiritual freedom, brought about the change so designated. 
Franklin more than, any other originated this movement," It is 
strange that in all the recent and growing bibliography on the 
library there is little or no tendency to trace the origin of the 
Protestant library to the Protestant Reformation. Yet Mr. Fletcher 
says on p. 27, "It is a significant fact that everywhere the clergy 
are found foremost in advancing the library movement." He cer- 
tainly does not mean the Catholic clergy. 

If you examine the libraries of our day and judge from their 
contents and spirit, the conclusion irresistibly comes to one that 
they do not know their own father or founder. Their walls often 
are decorated with fine pictures of illustrious men, Carnegie and 
other liberal donors; but in uo public library, not even in districts 
of our country where the German and Scandinavian taxpayers are 
in the majority do we find a picture on their walls, "Martin Luther, 
the Founder of the Library Among the Protestant Teutonic Na- 
tions." Though Carnegie should expend all his fortune on libraries 
alone, his donation to the library idea would be unworthy to be 
compared with that of Luther. Besides what Luther wrote urging 
the Teutonic nations accepting his teachings to erect libraries or 
"book houses" as he called them, and besideswhat he did in other 
ways to encourage the collection of the writings of the Germanic 
nations, this Teuton of the Teutons, their child and father, born, as 
I said, only fifteen years after the inventor of printing died, wrote 
a library of 11 3 volumes in the infancy of printing, which is still 
today the leading classic library of Protestantism, which has been 
translated and retranslated in part into every language of the 
globe and influenced every Protestant and many Catholic authors, 
and is or should be the foundation and center of every library that 
is not anti-Protestant. Alas! Alas! It is not so in our own Pro- 
testant land, the United States. He seems to be feared more as a 
leader of a sect, which he never was, than loved and honored as the 
hero of the Reformation and the very soul of the iProtestant Teu- 
tonic literary activity and its treasures. However I am not so 
greatly concerned to have Luther honored as the father of the mod- 
ern library by hanging his picture on their walls. There is a better 
way for the Protestant library to honor their father and that is to 
purchase his writings complete in the German, Scandinavian and 
English languages and then interest their German, Scandinavian 
and English citizens to read them. True some libraries have a 
dozen or more books written about Luther, his life, etc., but not a 
single book written by him. All the books that others have or 
may write about him are as nothing compared to what he himself 
wrote in explaining the Holy Scriptures and the fundamental prin- 
ciples of our modern aggressive Protestant civilization. If they 
are the happy possessors of a few books translated from our great 
Teuton church father, the books are often in such poor and anti- 
quated English that no one can nor will read them with any comfort. 



Librarians and pastors and Protestant laymen, what have you 
up-to-date in your library from tUc heart and pen of the father 
of Protestant literature? Look now and see, and make a note 
of what you find and write us, and we may be of some help to 
you in completing your collection. 

But what is the use for libraries to purchase Luther's works in 
German, Scandinavian or English when the people do not call for 
the books and read them. Therefore we have given emphasis to 
their cry that is going abroad in tine kind. 


Why? Because as a true intelligent Protestant you cannot read 
any thing better. Millions of people have said and millions more will 
say next to the Bible they received more from Luther's writings 
than from all other books combined. And if you lake the Pro- 
testant professors of our land, and for that matter of all lands, they 
all together would come far short of making a Luther. He was not 
only ahead of his times, but on many subjects he is far ahead of our 
age. Yes, when we keep company with Luther we feci we arc 
behind the times, on subjects like Romanism, Protestantism, Chris- 
tian schools, Christian libraries, the Christian family, the Christian 
state, and many Christian social problems. It is possible to go 
backwards as well as forwards. 

How can I read Luther when I have not his books and I cannot 
afford to purchase them? Our cry is not Buy Luther! Buy 
Luther!! Buy Luther!!! But Read Luther! Read Luthcrl! Read 
Luther!!! Many buy Luther's works and do not read them. They 
can afford to purchase them all and as they have a beautiful book- 
case with glass doors, perhaps the finest piece of furniture in their 
homes, as the style now is (for what is a home without an up-to- 
date book-case?), they subscribe for all Luther's works for a show 
in their book-case, and we ask can you name a set of books that 
makes a better show in any public or private library than Luther's 
works, especially in a Protestant library? They are also really a far 
betteT investment than these large, thick, cheap but dear, subscrip- 
tion books, which arc nice only while they arc new and then they 
fade and the outside becomes as bad as the iu>ide. When you look 
at the libraries of many Protestant homes, you pity them, first 
because of what they have not and then because of what they have. 
But Luther's writings should go inlo the home library not for 
a show nor for an investment, but to be read. Perhaps there is no 
passage of Scripture that our homes should take to heart just now 
more than the advice of Father Paul to his spiritual son. Timothy: 
"Give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching. Neglect not 
the gift that is in thee." 1 Tim. 4:13-14. Give heed that you read 
something, that you read the best, and give heed how you read, 
that the gifts in you may not be neglected. Then the right, sound 
exhortation and pure teaching will follow, Notice the order is 
first, give heed to reading. Many have never read any writings of 
Luther except perhaps his small catechism. They have not built 
very well on the foundation laid. When one thinks of the solid 
Christian books our German and Scandinavian parents read and 
what the children read now-a-days, you must sigh. 

Again many say I have now more books than I can read and 
if I buy more I will not read them. Well, you will not lose much 

luther's works in English. 

if you do not read many books you have, but if you would sell 
these and buy a few of the classic writings of Protestantism and 
read and read them again and again, you would be blessed, and 
just such a work is Luther on Genesis. 


I have spoken of those who can afford to buy Luther's works 
and do buy them, and yet they do not read them. There is an- 
other class much smaller but much better; namely, those who en- 
joyed the study of their catechism and the little they have read 
here and there in extracts from Ltuher and they long to read 
more, but do not know where to get the books or have not the 
money to buy them. To all such let our pastors, parochial and 
Sunday school teachers and all others say on every occasion pos- 
sible that such works can be had in the public library. If you do 
not find them there make application on the little blank slips the 
library furnishes for the public to request the library to secure 
the books desired. If they do not do so at once have your neighbors 
repeat and repeat the same request. This is the way the latest 
trashy novels are introduced in public libraries, for they buy only 
what the public asks for. These libraries are supported as a rule 
by taxation and the Germans and Scandinavians are heavy taxpay- 
ers and their requests for good standard books in their own lan- 
guage or in English will be favorably considered. We ourselves are 
to blame if public libraries have not the standard classics of their 
Protestant father and founder. 

It if therefore in harmony with historic development and with 
the spirit of Luther that in Chicago. June 29, 1903, an adjourned 
meeting of the convention, which assembled in the same city in 
September of the previous year, was held and effected an organi- 
zation known as the 

one aim of which as specified in its constitution, is "To aid in dupli- 
cating as far as practicable the 'Luther' literature in the British 
Museum Library in all the larger American Public Libraries." (See 
the constitution for further details.) The public libraries of Great 
Britain are far ahead of the American public libraries in their 
Luther literature, and we as free loyal Americans cannot afford 
to let it continue so. 

The question arises, what nations, what culture should characterize 
the libraries of the world? Shall the Greeks, or the Latins or the 
Teutons? To aid in answering this question I will add another 

Ill the Introduction of Vol. I in the: Psalms, to which the reader 
is referred, it was stated that the key-note of all of the "sacred books" 
of the East is "Salvation by Works." And yet in (he face of this 
Protestants arc ar-kedto believe that they are "sacred hooks," 
when their main teachings are directly contrary to what we have 
been taujjht to esteem as most sacred, namely, our Christian faith 
in the grace of Christ for salvation. To Protestants they are not 
sacred books but the very opposite. I would far rather call the 
writings of Luther sacred, which teach and defend the doctrine of 
salvation by grace as taught by the one great Book, although it 



stands alone and protests against the false teachings of the so- 
called sacred books of the cast. 

However let us now look more closely at the west. Here we 
find that Protestants have shown commendable zeal and enterprise 
in translating, publishing and circulating the large libraries of the 
Greek and Latin church fathers. Every pastor continuously re- 
ceives circulars with the almost irresistible temptation to purchase 
the patristic writings of both Catholic churches. This is all well, 
but we should not forget that the Anglo-Saxon people are neither 
Greeks nor Latins, but Teutons, and that our Teuton church fathers 
are Protestants and they also should be translated, published, cir- 
culated and read and taught. Little Wittenberg dare not fall 
behind Constantinople and Rome. It ought not. 
For "Saxon mid Norman and Dane are We," 

True the Teutons can and do learn from the Greek and Latin 
church fathers, but we also believe that the children of the old 
Greeks and Latins can learn much from our Teuton fathers, and 
that they have as good reasons to welcome our classic church 
literature as we have theirs; and we hope the day may soon come 
when they will translate and read ours as faithfully and impar- 
tially as we do theirs. What a blessing that would bring to Chris- 

In some quarters however English Protestants have been in 
danger of appreciating the fathers of the Greeks and Latins to 
the extent of neglecting to give due honor to their own. Many 
Protestant ministers' libraries contain all classics except the Pro- 
testant classics. Let the whole world have the Greek and the Latin 
fathers as it has, but let Protestants awake and give the world 
theirs. Is it not a shame and a pity that while all the writings of 
the Greek and Latin fathers have been translated into many lan- 
guages, yet the complete works of Luther, the first and chief of 
the Protestant fathers, have never been translated into any lan- 
guage, though his loyal disciples are numbered by the hundreds of 
thousands in different tongues, as the fruits of those writings? 
For of the 70,169,000 Lutherans in the world. 45,731,000 speak Ger- 
man, 7,300,000 Swedish, 3,500,000 Norwegian, 3,200,000 Danish. 
3,000,000 Finnish, 1,100,000 Esthnish, 400,000 Hungarian (or 4.- 
500,000 of the Finnish or Magyarian race), 4.000,000 English, 
2,000,000 Lettish, 500,000 Slovakian, 300,000 Polish, 200.000 French, 
100,000 Dutch, 100,000 Russian. 82,000 Icelandic, 50,000 Bohemian. 
63,000 Wendish, 113,000 Lithuanian, 250,000 the heathen dialects of 
Asia and 280,000 the heathen dialects of Africa, And further as 
all German speaking Reformed churches use Luther's version of 
the Scriptures, so they welcome his writings also. 

True in all these 17 or more languages some of Luther's writings 
have appeared. But it is distressing to learn how few they are, 
and how out of date and imperfect some of these are. Luther is the 
common property of all Protestants, and so are his writings. They 
would be helpful in all time to the Episcopalians, the 17,- 
000,000 Methodists, the 11,000,000 Baptists, the 9,000,000 Presby- 
terians, the 4,500,000 Congregationalists, and all other Protestants; 
and not only to the 140,000,000 Protestants, but also to the 80,000,- 
000 Greek Catholics and 200,000,000 Latin Catholics and to the 



heathen, to the infidel, to the state as well as to the church. The 
first thing for Protestants to do is to give all nations the Bible; 
and the second, to give them the best Protestant classics. We can. 
Will we? 

No nation or race is greater than its greatest men, and those, 
greatest men are not greater than their best writings. Hence little 
is of more value in literature than the honest critique by these great- 
est men of the best writings of the most civilued and cultured na- 
tions before their time. Therefore of the greatest interest are the 


They are taken literally from his Table Talk and read thus: 
I will not presume to criticise too closely the writings of the 
fathers, seeing they arc received of the church, and have great 
applause, for then I should be held an apostate; but whoever reads 
Chrysostom, will find he digresses from the chief points, and pro- 
ceeds to other matters, saying nothing, or very little, of that which 
pertains to the subject. When I was expounding the Epistle to 
the Hebrews, and turned to what Chrysostom had written upon 
it, I found nothing to the purpose; yet I believe that he at that 
time, being the chief rhetorician, had many hearers, though he 
taught without profit; for the chief office of a preacher is to teach 
uprightly, and diligently to look to the main points and foundation 
on which' he stands, and so instruct and teach the hearers that they 
understand aright and may be able to say: This is well taught. 
When this is done, he may avail himself of rhetoric to adorn his 
subject and admonish the people. 

Behold what great darkness is in the books of the fathers con- 
cerning faith; yet if the article of justification be darkened, it is 
impossible to smother the grossest errors of mankind. St. Jerome, 
indeed, wrote upon Malthew, upon the Epistles to the Galatians 
and to Titus; but, alas, very coldly. Ambrose wrote six books on 
Genesis, but they are very poor. Augustine wrote nothing to the 
purpose concerning faith; for he was first roused up and made a 
man by the Pelagians, in striving against them. 1 can find no 
exposition upon the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, in which 
anything is taught pure and right. What a happy time have we 
now as to the purity of the doctrine; but alas, we little esteem it. 

We must read the fathers cautiously, and lay them in the gold 
balance, for they often stumbled and went astray, and introduced 
into their books many monkish things. Augustine had more work 
and labor to wind himself o t of the writings of the fathers, than 
he had with the heretics. Gregory expounds the five pounds men- 
tioned in the Gospel, which the husbandman gave to his servants 
to put to use, to be the five senses, which the beasts also possess. 
The two pounds he construes to be the reason and understanding. 

The more I read the books of the fathers, the more I find myself 
offended; for they were hut men, and, to speak the truth with all 
their repute and authority, undervalued the books and writings of 
the sacred apostles of Christ, The Papists were not ashamed to 
say, What are the Scriptures? We must read the holy fathers 
and teachers, for they drew and sucked the honey out of the 



Scriptures. As if God's Word were to be understood and con- 
ceived by none but themselves, whereas the heavenly Father says: 
"Him shall ye hear," who in the Gospel taught most plainly in 
parables and similitudes. 

Augustine was the ablest ana purest of all the doctors, but he 
could not of himself bring things back to their original condition, 
and he often complains that the bishops, with their traditions and 
ordinances, trouble the church more than did the Jews with their 

I am persuaded that if at this time, St. Peter, in person, should 
preach all the articles of the Holy Scriptures, and only deny the 
pope's authority, power and primacy, and say that the pope is 
not the head of all Christendom, they would cause him to be 

Jerome should not be numbered among the teachers of the 
church, for he was a heretic; yet I believe he was saved through 
faith in Christ. He speaks not of Christ, but merely carries his 
name in his mouth. 

Again he says, Jerome may be consulted for the purpose of his- 
torical study. As to faith, and good true religion and doctrine^ 
there is not a word about them in his writings. He writes only 
respecting fasts, sorts of food, virginity, etc. I have already 
proscribed Origin. Chrysostom possesses no authority in my esti- 
mation. Basil is but a monk, for whom I would not give the value 
of a hair. The Apology of Philip Melanchthon is worth all the 
writings of all the doctors of the church put together, not excepting 
those of St. Augustine. 

Tertullian is a thorough Carlstad; Cyprian the martyr is a feeble 

The fathers said nothing decisive during their lives, respecting 
justification by grace; but at their death they believed in it. This 
was the more prudent course for them to follow, in order neither 
to encourage mysticism, nor discourage good works. These worthy 
fathers lived better than they wrote. 

Since I became, by the grace of God, capable of understanding 
St. Paul, I have been unable to esteem any of these doctors; they 
have shrunk into insignificance in my estimation. 


— of — 


his "swan song" and Hrs "it is finished." 

We certainly will be pardoned for issuing here and at this time 
the Prefaces: of Veil Dietrich, who published the first of these lec- 
tures in Latin: of Basil Faber, who was the first to translate parts 
from Latin into German; of Dr. Watch, who issued one of the best 
editions of Luther's complete works; and of Dr^ Cole, who was the 
first to translate a small part from Latin into English. The words 
of these four men are a stronger appeal than we can write for the 
extensive circulation among English Protestants of this the last 
and the greatest of Luther's writings. 

It is as Mathestus says: "Surely the last thoughts are the best 
when they at the time refer to the Word of God and spring from it. 
The sermons and books of aged men are worthy of consideration 
and preservation. Hence, Jerome Weller called this commentary 
Luther's Swan Song, and Morlin calls it the "Consummatum Est, 
"It Is Finished," of Luther. . 

A new interest will be taken in the lines of this book when it is 
remembered how dear they were to the Reformer himself. He fre- 
quently expresses his love for his "dear Genesis, and had the 
prophetic impression that his labors in Genesis and his earthly lite 
would terminate together. And so they did. This was the last 
public work of Luther's forty years of professorial, ministerial and 
reformatory labors. This saint of God, who was a lion before 
men, but a lamb before God," concludes his commentary thus: 
"This is now the dear Book of Genesis. May our Lord grant that 
others may do it better than I have done. I can no more; I am so 
weak. Pray to God for me, that he may grant me a good holy hour 
at death I" . , .- 

A friend one of the collectors of these comments, records these 
remarkable coincidences at the foot of the Commentary: The 
man of God. Doctor Martin Luther, finished his Commentaries on 
the Book of Genesis in the year of our Lord IS4S, on the 17th day 
of November; having commenced them in the year 1535- In his 
opening remarks he had said, 'This exposition I shall pore over 
and die over {immorabor *t imworiar): According to this prophe- 
cy concerning himself he died at Eisleben, Feb. i8th, 1546, piously 
and continually calling upon the Son of God. 



To the Most Illustrious, High-Bom Prince and Lord, John Ernest, Duke 
of Saxony, Landgrave of Thuringia, Margrave of Misnia. 

It is this glorious and beautiful architectural building, the world; 
that is, the heavens and earth with all that in them is, as the stars, 
the elements, the trees, the plants, and all kinds of animals, etc.,' 
created so admirably for it and wisely ordered by God in their 
relations to one another, that teaches us to know God as the one 
eternal and almighty Creator and the right Master-builder, and to 
understand that he created us for this life, body and soul, and gave 
us reason and a spirit in order that lie might thereby be worshipped. 
And such knowledge would have remained pure and beautiful in 
the hearts of all men without doubt and error of any kind had 
human nature not fallen through disobedience into such miserable 
darkness and other innumerable calamities. 

For what blindness and ignorance of God, his nature and will, 
his providence and government, there is in the hearts of all men 
in their corrupt and infirm nature, is evident from the doubts which 
stick in the hearts of everyone, concerning which Plato was right 
when he wisely said, "That the minds of men are so overpowered 
with conviction by the laws of the motion of the heavenly bodies 
and other testimonies of nature, that they are compelled to confess 
Vi^'j'w Y or , ld had for its Creator an eternal and almighty divine 
Mind. And yet we find that this knowledge and this conviction 
are darkened and deranged when we consider how enormous and 
contused all things are m the world and in this life, and when we 
find ourselves so often plunged into such great misery and need 
without help or rescue as if there were no God left to his creatures 

From such doubts all those mad-braiued opinions of philosophers 
have arisen. Some, as the Epicureans, denied the existence of God 
altogether; others, as Aristotle and the Stoics, believed God was an 
eternal mind, yet bound and confined him to second causes; just in 
the same way as the poets fable that Saturn was bound by Jupiter. 
Ihus they ascribe to him no action, but that which the general 
concurrence of second causes produces. Hence having their minds 
infatuated with this delirium, they can neither ask any good 
thing of God, nor expect any good thing from him, because, with 
lliem events are necessarily only consequents which responsivel'y 
follow upon their natural first causes. 

Therefore, while these men thus reasoned, they did not bring 
forth their own private and personal opinions only, but the 
common errors which lie concealed naturally in the minds of the 
whole human race. The greatest part of mankind fix their eyes 
upon second causes; but these never raise them so high as the 
great Over-ruler of all; so as to wait for the government or 
pressing forth of second causes from and by him, as Elijah did 
when he prayed for rain in the midst of a drought, and as Isaiah 




did. when lie drove back an army of the enemy by prayer. 

When this darkness in the mind of man had followed upon 
the fall of mir first parents, God came forth anew out of his 
secret habitation, and immediately made himself known again, 
with a distinct voice and with fresh testimonies; that the human 
race might not appear to be created in vain nor without a mighty- 
purpose, nor for destruction only. The creation indeed was a 
great benefit and blessing from God. But much more so was 
his revelation of himself to the human race from the very "begin- 
ning." bv certain tc>timonies and evidences; delivering with a 
distinct voice the promise of eternal life and salvation, and making 
a declaration concerning a judgment to come, in which after this 
life he would separate the righteous from the wicked. The Law 
also, though known to nature at first, he renewed, and showed what 
was his true worship. He caused it moreover to be attended with 
.signs. Which could be wrought by no power less than infinite. He 
recalled the dead to life, he stopped the motions of the heavens and 
the course of the sun. and he even turned the sun back in his course 
to refute a human delirium, which pretended to suspend God by 
second causes as by the golden chain of Homer. 

And lastly, the Son of God himself assumed human nature and 
lived openly wilh ns, taught us and became a sacrifice and offering 
for our sins; and after having- overcome death rose and lived again, 
and discoursed with many in an open and familiar manner; and 
moreover preached to a great multitude of hearers. And although 
these things, on account of their greatness, seem to human judg- 
ment to be mere fictions, yet they are attested and sealed by sure 
and certain evidences and miracles; so that they are as surely true 
as that it is mid-day when the sun has mounted in his course to 
the mid-heaven. 

To these blessings we are also to add this, that God was pleased 
that there should be a history of the human race from the very 
'beginning." and a record of all those testimonies, by which he 
revealed himself, committed to writing and engraven on biblical 
monuments, which should remain forever. Nor will God be 
known in any oilier way than by these testimonies; nor will he con- 
sider any assembly of men, who are ignorant of these testimonies, 
to be his Church, nor will he receive the prayer of those, who do 
not call upon him as the same God, who does thus make himself 
known by these his testimonies. 

The Mohammedans and Turks call upon God as the Creator of 
universal nature, but they set themselves against his Son and his 
Son's doctrine. They say, that he who can apnrove such doctrine 
cannot be God. And as to his Son, in whom God more especially 
reveals himself, and concerning whom he says himself, "This is 
my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him," on him 
they spit with infuriated madness! 

And what says Plato here? Although Plato does raise his 
mind above the common opinions of the vulgar, and does not 
ascribe divinity to statues of wood and stone, but really does in- 
quire after God with very wise reasoning; and although he de- 
fines him to be "an eternal mind" and the great Cause of all 
good in nature, yet he still errs very widely from the true God. 
Hut how is that, some one may say? What description of God 



will you find more appropriate than Plato's? 1 acknowledge 
that he thought most learnedly and wisely concerning the nature 
of God; but concerning his will, he hangs in doubt himself and 
leaves all his readers and disciples in doubt also; and to use his 
own expression "bestormed and shipwrecked in their reasoning." 
Neither Plato nor Mohammed knew whether God heard and re- 
ceived the unworthy; nor how. nor why, he received them. 

Plato ought however to have inquired not only how God mani- 
fested himself in the creation of things, and what traces of himself 
he impressed upon the face of nature, but also whether or not 
he had uttered any voice by any certain signs or testimonies, and 
how that voice was spread abroad and made known. He might 
have heard these things when studying mathematics in Egypt, 
and might easily have learned all particulars from (heir neighbors 
the Jews. But the greater part of men always despise the voice and 
the Church of God. 

But to what purpose is all this far-fetched Introduction? It is 
for this cud, that we may know the true Church of God is nowhere 
but among those, who have and who embrace the writings of the 
prophets and the apostles; that God is nowhere rightly called upon, 
but where the_ doctrine contained in these books truly shines forth. 
And here again we have to consider another singular blessing of 
God; That ho was pleased lo cause a whole connected history o" 
all ages, from "the beginning," 10 be recorded in these books, and 
has preserved them by his own peculiar care. Nay. the whole 
Mosaic Economy was ordained for this very preservation of them. 
For what was the whole of that Economy, but a school and library 
of these books? 

And the fountain of all is the first book of Muses, called Genesis. 
which profane men may perhaps laugh at and consider that it (loci 
not differ from the "Timon" of Plato, in which also the creation 
of the_world is described. But the godly reader knows that there 
is a wide difference between profane descriptions and this descrip- 
tion given us from above. For the latter not only informs us of the 
beginnings and nature _of created bodies, but gives us a description 
of God himself. And it contains also an account of the beginnings 
of the Church; for the sake of which all other things were created 
and made, all which things we must know before we can under- 
stand whence the doctrine of the church proceeded and how the 
knowledge of it was spread abroad in the world. 

Alt heathen superstitions crept into the assemblies of men with- 
out any certain authors, and were afterwards accumulated by 
fanatical persons on various occasions. But from '"the book of 
Genesis" wc learn that the doctrine of the church was delivered 
to our first parents by the voice of God. and that thence the knowl- 
edge of it was preserved and spread abroad in the world by a con- 
tinued series of persons and events, and not without manifest evi- 
dences and testimonies. Enoch was taken tip imo heaven; Noah 
truly preached of the Flood and was afterwards preserved in the 
Flood; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, etc., for there arc many 
signs and^ evidences that they were teachers and priests, truly 
called of God, were most certain witnesses, that the doctrine which 
they embraced and preached was front heaven. 

Symmachus objects against Christians, that all agree that the 



oldest doctrine must be the true one; but that the apostolic doctrine 
is a recent fiction. But Symmachus is here in a very great error; 
for it can be most manifestly proved that the doctrine now held by 
the Church is the first doctrine that was ever delivered to the world. 
And that is plainly shown in this "Book of Genesis,!' where both 
the doctrine is recorded as having been delivered of God; and also 
the increasing nations are described, which departed from the purity 
of that doctrine and formed for themselves new opinions concern- 
ing God and set up idols, instead of worshipping him. Therefore, 
we must come to this Book for a description of the beginnings 
of the Church, and for testimonies of its propagation; and it is 
to this Book that all doctrines must be referred in order to discover 
their origin or antiquity. 

Philosophers knew nothing of the cause of sin, of the cause of 
death, nor of the cause of the great calamities to which the hu- 
man race are subject; nor did they know anything of the restitu- 
tion of all things, nor of eternal life. They were continually in- 
quiring, how there is so much misery in the nature of the human 
race, which is so exalted and excellent. How often do they exclaim 
against and lament man's violent and impetuous inclinations to vice! 
They see that his virtues are weak and that they are only faint at- 
tempts which soon vanish and end in nothing; as we see in Pau- 
sanius, who was the great general of the Greeks against Mardonitis; 
and in Alexander; also in Themistoclcs and many others. Aris- 
totle seeks for the cause of the death of the human race and 
of all other living creatures in their material nature; and to 
make good his hypotheses, he enumerates privation among the 
principles of natural things; that he might in some way or 
other make out a continual lapse of matter, decaying and perish- 
ing, in order to assume other forms. 

But the Book now under consideration sets before us a far 
different cause of the death of the human race and of the corrup- 
tions which defile it; it shows that the cause was a turning away 
from God in our human nature at "the beginning;" which human 
nature, casting away the light and knowledge of God and of life, 
procured to itself a confusion in its powers and a subjection to the 
tyranny of the devil and of death. The greatness and enormity of 
the e evils appeared in our first parents, in the murder of Cain 
and in other horrible wickednesses, seen in those first flowers of the 
human race, which excelled all others in purity and excellence. 

Then again we have a beautiful view and proof of this in the 
propagation and continual renewing of the Church; where it ap- 
pears that the Church is not a kingdom or body politic, belonging 
to this world, enclosed and guarded by armed garrisons; but a body- 
formed of widely dispersed assemblies, though not hidden and 
obscure; hearing about with them the divine voice and the Word, 
and dispensing it in public congregations of honest men, to kings, 
rulers and cities; and calling and drawing many everywhere to 
prayer and to the true worship of God; though they are all the 
while derided, cast out, and driven away by tyrants and by the great 
part of mankind. 

Melchizedek, whom the old divines supposed was Shem,_ the 
son of Noah, surpassed all the men of that time in wisdom, right- 
eousness and age; and he preached for a long time to the people 



of Sodom and the neighboring places, for his dwelling was not 
more than eight English miles from Sodom. Therefore no doubt 
he had a congregation, by no means insignificant, which contained 
the families of Abraham, Lot and many others. For although the 
Church was small, yet there was always some Church existing; 
and that no obscure nor inconsiderable assemblage. And these 
little schools or congregations of hearers were protected and de- 
fended from on high. For all the neighboring cities, Sodom the 
chief in power, with infuriated madness despised the heavenly doc- 
trine, and railed at and hated its preachers. 

In meditating on this book of Genesis the picture Moses gives 
us of the Church at that time is to be continually and diligently con- 
sidered. And indeed in reading these histories, the following six 
particulars are to be carefully borne in mind. 

First, the doctrine of our primitive fathers is to be considered, 
and that the prophets and apostles drew many things from these 
fountains. For our forefathers and the prophets learned the 
benefits of Christ, both out of the promise given to Abraham 
and from other parts of those histories. How eruditely and learn- 
edly does Paul draw up the article of righteousness by faith out 
of that word of Genesis, "Abraham believed in God, and it was 
counted unto him for righteousness." And David ascribes unto 
Christ a priesthood like that of Melchizedek; marking particularly 
his office of blessing; when he blessed Abraham and promised him 
in the sweetest words, the favor and help of God; which was differ- 
ent from the office of the Levitical priesthood. 

This is a most rich part of the Scripture of Genesis as the fol- 
lowing commentary frequently points out. and as tha godly reader 
at once perceives in this very history itself; for he knows that the-e 
histories are to be read in a far different spirit and with a widely 
different intent, than all profane and heathen histories. Heathen 
histories merely set before us examples of civil manners, and show 
that the events attending honest designs are for the most part good, 
and pleasant, and successful; but that the most fatal calamities await 
atrocious wickedness. And this is nearly all that we learn from pro- 
fane and heathen histories. But these prophetic writings contain 
things of much higher moment; the doctrine of God, the divine 
testimonies concerning eternal things and the government of the 

Secondly. We must observe and consider these miracles. Not 
merely to feast our wondering curiosity on their singularity or 
novelty, but hold them fast as testimonies and evidences; intended 
to show what kind of doctrine and what kind of teachers God ap- 
proves. All those marvelous and signal acts of God are above na- 
ture, and wrought as "seals" of the doctrine. For we are not to 
imagine that God was in jest, when he forewarned the antediluvian 
world of the Flood, and when he saved the family of Noah alone 
from that mighty Deluge. All these his mighty acts were testi- 
monials of his providence and of his doctrine, which the aged Noah 

Thirdly. Let the government, defense and protection of the 
Church be diligently observed; which, although it seems to be 
neglected of God, yet exhibits most illustrious proofs of the pres- 
ence of God and of his providence. 



The Emperor Augustus ruled the world by sure and established 
laws; lie had his armies, to whose care he entrusted the safety of his 
provinces, and he had also his wealth and other resources, where- 
with to support his armies. Thus a political government is fortified 
and protected by human laws, counsels and power. But the govern- 
ment of the Church is far different from this. 

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wander about like private men and 
strangers in the land without any human resources for protection; 
and they collect together a Church by the Word or Voice of God, 
and by the Holy Ghost. And though they are unceasingly exercised 
with various sorrows and distresses, they still find themselves de- 
livered from all evils, protected and defended from above 1 

So also Jacob, when about to take his journey with all his family 
through the territories of his angry and embittered brother, is filled 
with fears and hesitations, and the difficulties seem insurmountable 
by all human counsel, but in the night he wrestles with the Lord 
and is encouraged, confirmed and protected. 

And many like examples are contained in this little but mo- 
mentous book of Record, which shows us that God is ever with 
his Church. It commands and encourages us also to seek and 
hope for help and defense from him. For these things were re- 
corded and handed down to posterity that we might be encouraged 
by such examples and might know that God in the same manner 
is ever willing to protect and defend us. 

Fourthly. We must bear in mind the continual succession of the 
Church. Men magnify the ordinary succession of all human things; 
the titles and honors and decorations of parents and the magnifi- 
cence of houses and places. Cain, Ishmael and Esau arrogated to 
themselves dominion and superiority in the Church, because they 
had the advantage of their brethren in age. The ancient Babylon- 
ians maintained that their opinions concerning God were the most 
true, because that was the most ancient dwelling place of our fath- 
ers, and because it was the capital and citadel of their empire; just 
as bishops and colleges now on account of an ordinary succession 
assume to themselves this peculiar honor, that they cannot err; 
and that they are the habitation and the pillars of the truth. 

But Paul shows us in Romans g:6 4 etc., that all such judgments 
and opinions are refuted in Genesis, where, the apostle shows in 
the most forcible manner that the Church is not propagated and 
continued by any prerogatives or privileges of birth or place, but 
by the calling and Word of God. The family of Jacob was the 
Church; because it retained the doctrine of the Word from heaven; 
but Esau did not retain it. 

Thus the Church which fell away and declined in Palestine was 
restored by the calling of the great teacher Abraham, and by the 
renewal of the promise to him with additional evidences and testi- 
monies, and this history shows that the Church is the care of 
God, and is regenerated and revived by him; as Paul says, "And 
he gave gifts unto men, prophets and apostles, and pastors, and 

Let us not then be moved by honors of dignity, or places, or an 
orderly succession, so as to be made to believe that the church is 
that assembly of men who oppose the Gospel and who would kill 
and exterminate all honest men on account of their profession of 



the doctrine of godliness, as Cain did 

Fifthly We must bear in wind while reading this Boot oj gen- 
esis the lives, manners and actions of the persons recorded tn it. 
We have before been speaking of the doctrine and government ot 
the Church, and they who despise these will never truly value or 
prize this book. For such men seek in these histories as in S.U 
others, and are interested only in the various commotions and 
changes of states and kingdoms, and the examples and lives iOt 
the leaders of armies and the wonderful events of WfcBrt 
here they read also the conversations and hves of shepherds 
which are like real pastorals, better than Virgil's Buco tea. And 
they here read also the marriages and l^rrels of w«WJ, which 
they despise as altogether without interest All such readers and 
proud men err, and do not understand that it is the Church which is 
here portrayed by Moses, which is poor and humble in external ap- 
pearance and unlike mighty empires; yet, as. the members of that 
Church lived a civil life, its history consists in domestic and pollt- 
ical actions; according to the vocation of those meaner s of the 
Church of God and the various occurrences which took place in 
their lives, . „ , . . - |V| c ,,.t_ 

Thus Abraham taught his guests concerning God, and with such 
effect that they themselves said, that he was an angc 1 fro m God 
for it is indeed a great work, verily the greatest of all works to 
teach rightly concerning God. This same man carries on Mf jhttl 
cfrcumsfanccs require if and defeats a huge army o tie Chaldean - 
with a very small number, showing thereby that true courage 
s a divine motion in the soul from God. Tins same man ,s ; a so 
a master of a family, is full of pure affection, and low* »w« 
and his children. He is also a diligent man in all his domestic af- 
fairs He defends his fountains and his cattle. In buying he evinces 
peculiar care, justice and equity; things which he knows God re- 
quires in all the dealings of men with each other And in all this 
tenor of domestic and political life Abraham's great aim is On, that 
thereby his confession and profession might be made manifest by 
his actions. In all the common calamities moreover which intend 
his life of trouble, he exercises the fear of God, patience and call- 
ing upon God in prayer; and he experiences at the hand of God 
many and great deliverances. , . . 

All these things in the lives of the holy patriarchs are committed 
to letters and recorded in this Holy Book ; to .the end that super- 
stitions of every kind might be refuted. For m all ages supersti- 
tious men have imagined and sought out various ceremonies and 
modes of religious action, which are not consistent even with com 
mon sense, and these superstitious ceremonies they have pompot s ly 
commended to the people tinder the title of great acts of rel pon. 
All the laws of celibacy, of particular meats and drmks, of aff ictmg 
and torturing the body, to make a feigned outside show of rel«ion, 
are as ancient as the world itself. But let us oppose to all these 
mad inventions the domestic, and political lives and conversations 
of the patriarchal fathers, which were full of examples of faith, full 
of the most honorable and kind duties toward their fellow men, 
and full of the tenderest affection. Nevertheless, these holy char- 
acters were not without ceremonies. There were sacrifices; there 
■were certain explanations of the Word and will of God; there were 



certain holy exercises. The possession of letters and of learning 
also rested with these men especially. From them it is that we' 
received theology, history and medicine. Therefore they must 
doubtless have been engaged in various domestic duties and exer- 
cises; that of the less experienced ages might be instructed 
bv them and trained to virtue. 

Sixthly. Even the faults and falls of the great nurn, recorded in 
this Book must be particularly considered. They look the greatest 
care not to ru.-h into anything against their consciences. But 
some offenses will arise in the best of men even against their wills. 
And sometimes offenses occur of which men are wholly ignorant 
and unconscious before they take place. Lot, when in the great 
K'rief of his mind lie had drunk to excess, was defiled by an incestu- 
ous commerce with his own daughters. 

But in these slips and falls vvc are to observe a distinctive dif- 
ference. These holy men who feared God, as I said, were on 
their guard not to rush into anything against their consciences; and 
when they happened to fail they deplored the weakness of human 
nature and learned to see the value of the promise of deliverance 
through the Saviour, who was to come. And they at length knew 
that God had received them again in mere mercy, for the sake of 
the great Deliverer promised; and by that confidence and trust in 
the promised mercy they returned to God; and therefore they ob- 
tained pardon and were delivered from their sins avid the punishment 
of them. Hence Jacob preaches and proclaims the angel, the Son 
of God, by whom he said he was "delivered from all evil"; namely, 
from sin and eternal punishment. But the wicked, as Cain, the 
"giants." and the people of Sodom, defiled themselves with various 
sins and iniquities in an open contempt of God, and rushed into 
eternal destruction. Therefore the wide difference between the 
falls and punishments of these two characters is to be diligently 
observed in reading this book of Genesis. 

These observations I have made by way of Introduction for 
the benefit of the inexperienced, that being thus forewarned they 
might know that the doctrine contained in these sacred histories 
is concerning the most momentous things, and is most copious and 
extensive, which indeed the following commentary will most learn- 
edly and blessedly open up and explain. Let those therefore who 
read it bear in mind that the six particular admonitions which I 
have here mentioned; and let their aim in reading be this, that by 
meditating on the lives of the holy men here recorded, they may 
become accustomed to the fear of God and to faith in him; and to 
call upon him in prayer and supplication. 

And as there is no old commentary of the book of Genesis 
existing, and as it is well known to all that this book is calculated 
to be of the utmost benefit and profit, thanks are due to the 
Reverend Doctor Luther, our teacher, both from myself and from 
all who fear God, for having undertaken this exposition, by doing 
which he has rendered a most essential service; not only to_ us,' 
but to all posterity; because he has here opened up and explained 
the most important things; and has also so commented upon those 
most excellent men and lights of the Church, Abraham, Isaac, 
Jacob and Joseph, that their virtues because of this commentary 
shine forth with much renewed brightness. 



Before this, when the people heard the names of these lumin- 
aries of the Church, they had no particular thoughts upon their 
spiritual excellencies or their heroism; nor did they consider 
them to be above the common rank of shepherds; but now, they 
learn to acknowledge the peculiar presence of God with them, and 
to render thanks unto God that they were called of him and that 
they so wonderfully governed and revived the Church. From these 
also they have borrowed eminent examples of the fear of God. of 
faith, of confession, of patience, and of many other holy virtues. 
On these they fix their eyes as on leaders and lights of the Church, 
and inquire of their doctrine for the confirmation of their faith. 
In a word they venerate them as their fathers; that is, as teachers 
of all who call upon Jesus Christ; and they understand also that 
these same patriarchs are the fathers in the flesh of those murder- 
ers, the Jews, and of others who, like the Jews of old, hold up 
Christ for a laughing-stock and "crucify him afresh" day by day. 

Indeed, it is no small step toward godliness to know the doctrines 
of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph; and to exalt these eminent 
men in our esteem. 

And that this commentary might be a benefit to more, and might 
be handed down to posterity, as Doctor Luther had not leisure 
enough to commit it to writing, with the help of my friends, Caspar 
Cruciger and George Rorary, I collected it with the greatest dili- 
gence and speed, as we received it from the mouth of our venerable 
teacher Luther; and faithfully committed it to paper; and I hope 
our services will be acceptable to all our readers who fear the Lord. 

This useful and valuable monument of divine knowledge and 
experience therefore I dedicate to you, moat Illustrious Prince, 
John Ernest; which, I doubt not, you will prize more than any 
monuments of marble or of brass. For I know it is your desire 
that this noble work of Martin Luther should be preserved for 
the Church's sake; and I am equally assured that you love and 
cherish it with a pious regard, and after the example of your 
father; and I am also persuaded that you love the author of it; 
which also you do after the example of your reverend father, 
that most upright prince, Elector John, Duke of Saxony, whose 
worth we thus deservedly record; who. although he was far in- 
ferior to our most eminent leaders, whom I have before men- 
tioned, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph; yet 1 may justly rank 
him with that Pharaoh, King of Egypt, whom Joseph instructed 
in the true knowledge of God; and who gave a quiet dwelling to 
the family of Jacob. For thus your father also learned the Gospel 
with a holy desire that he might worship God. And he cherished 
and adorned the churches, and devoted all his counsels with the 
greatest moderation, to the common peace and tranquility of 

Receive therefore, Illustrious Prince, this great work, which is 
now dedicated to you; that by reading these wonderful histories of 
the government, the perils, and the defense of the Church of God, 
you may learn to govern and strengthen your own exalted mind. 

The reason why this commentary did not appear all at once, 
but in separate volumes, was because the labor of collecting and 
committing it to paper was very great; and we have not much idle 
time at our disposal, from the duties of our calling, as many dream 



we have; nor as those have, who only vaunt and talk of their great 
and numerous good works. I hope however that this my candid 
confession will be accepted by the reader, if I shall put into his 
hands a part of our labors first; though it is not a small part; and 
I promise that the remainder shall be added to it in a short time. 
For as one of old says, "A godly mind surmounts the hardest toil." 

We who are engaged in church work have not only the labor of 
commenting and teaching, but we have also to endure many other 
burdens; and that, too, with much courage and firm determination 
of mind. 

Nor am I deterred from my purpose even by the opinions of f 
those, who say that nothing which our adversaries advance, who ' 
reproach this kind of doctrine (which, through the goodness and 
mercy of God, sounds forth in our Church), ought to be pub- 
lished to the world. For God's will is that he should _ be pro- 
claimed aloud, both by the living voice and by the writings of 
his Church- Hence it is said concerning the Church's living voice, 
"Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou perfected 
praise." And concerning her writings, "These things shall be 
written for the generation to come." God's will is, that the 
doctrine revealed by him should be delivered faithfully and purely 
to posterity. And his will also is that we should inculcate it 
by speaking, by discoursing, by commenting, and by writing; that 
it might become familiarly known to us. And this continual medi- 
tation and application of the pen are of essential service to the 
promotion of godliness. 

In a word, on what subjects can we meditate and what things 
cart we commit to paper more useful and important than these? 
I approve of the labors of all, who devote themselves to the 
useful arts. I praise those who describe the nature and proper- 
ties of plants and adorn any of the arts given us from above. But 
it is not more the duty of men to philosophize upon plants or upon 
the anatomy of the human body, than to collect with a godly in- 
tent those things which were delivered to us of God, attended with 
sure and certain testimonies. 

And as to our adversaries t who reproach the doctrine of our 
Church, all such are refuted in this very book of Genesis by those 
sure witnesses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Since, there- 
fore, we have such eminent men as these, as witnesses on our side; 
nay, as our teachers, too; let us not be moved by the calumnies and 
reproaches of the wicked. Reader, farewell To God I commend 

Christmas, 1544. 


To the Worthy, Honorable and Illustrious Christopher von Steinberg, my 
Gracious Lord ; 

How one should read the books of Moses and what one should 
chiefly learn from them are fully set forth by our beloved and 
highly honored father, Doctor Luther, in many places of his writ- 
ings; namely, one should first of all and above all concentrate his 
attention upon the very loving and conforting promises concern- 
ing our Lord and Saviour, some of which are very clear and plain 
in the sacred writings of Moses, as Gen. 3:15, "And I will put 
enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and 
her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel," 
Also, Gen. 22:18, "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the 
earth be blessed." Likewise Deut. 18:15, "Jehovah thy God will 
raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy breth- 
ren, like urto me; unto him shall ye hearken." In the second place 
attention should be given to the glorious and beautiful examples 
of faith, of love, of suffering, of patience, of prayer and other spir- 
itual characteristics and traits in the saints, as in Adam, Abel, Noah, 
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others. How God was disposed toward 
them, governed, protected and heard them. And thirdly, study the 
examples of unbelief among the ungodly and of the divine wrath 
and judgment, in Cain, Ishmael, Esau, in the Flood and in the de- 
struction of Sodom and Gomorrah. _ For all these are nowhere de- 
scribed more truly and fully than in the writings of Moses; and 
such examples illustrate, if they are rightly studied, how the entire 
Old Testament is to be used with profit; namely, that we learn to 
trust and believe in God from the examples of the saints set be- 
fore us, how God received them, ruled and led them and wonder- 
fully protected them. But from the examples of the wrath and 
judgment of God learn to fear him. 

Such passages are not only here and there in all the books of 
Moses, but in his first book he treats also the following important 
themes: Whence all creatures, especially man, have their origin; 
also what sin and death are and how man may be delivered from 
them -and become truly pious, which every man seeks and desires; 
for these are the most important subjects of all the sacred Scrip- 
tures. Likewise, how the Church originated and grew, often came 
in need and danger, and was wonderfully preserved by God. 

The foregoing one should know, if he would read Moses, and 
especially his first book, Genesis. But so much is in these sound 
and useful lessons and explanations of Genesis by our honored fath- 
er, Doctor Martin Luther, of blessed memory, that I will give a 
short account of it. And first it is true that this dear and great 
man, our beloved father and prophet, Doctor Martin Luther, served 
the Church to his last days in many and various labors. In his ex- 
position of the prophetical and apostolical writings, he has most 




faithfully explained, enforced and defended the doctrines concern- 
ing the forgiveness of sins, righteousness before God, and eternal 
salvation. However his expositions of his "beloved Genesis," as he 
delighted to call it, are a key or paragon to all his other writings 
and books, and a very rich treasure in which an excellent theology 
is gathered and formulated, as every diligent reader will find for 
himself. For what is now and then treated in many writings of 
DocLor Luther, flow together here in one work, which might rightly 
be called Dr. Luther's Theology. Further you find here for the 
first time many useful reports of all kinds of spiritual and theolog- 
ical discussions, as they spring up continuously, and especially crit- 
ical and special instruction almost on every article of Christian 
doctrine, of God, of the three Persons in the divine Essence, of 
the creation, of sin, of faith and the forgiveness of sin; of the Law 
and the Gospel, and how both doctrines are to be distinguished 
from one another, which have never been treated better and more 
fully than in this book. Also, of the true Church, of the papacy of 
Rome, against which you will find here very powerful storms, 
almost on every page. Against the Jews and all their lies, dreams 
and phantasies; also some powerful discussions and strong refuta- 
tions of their prejudices, comments, corruptions and misunder- 
standings. In addition also the correct exegesis or explanations 
of many difficult passages of the Scriptures, and strong consolation 
in all kinds of spiritual need and temptations, as against doubt 
and unbelief, the fear and the crisis of death, and the like. Also, 
the refutation of many false teachings and heresies both old and 
new. In addition some fine and useful histories illustrating the 
course of the Gospel in our day. Likewise prophecies concerning 
Germany as to its sad future because it lightly esteems the Word 
and is so very unthankful, some of which have already been realized 
and others are about to be. Finally you find at times, according to 
the drift and occasion of the expositions, good counsels and reports 
also about external and worldly affairs, to know which fully is nec- 
essary, useful and pleasant. 

Therefore then, as I considered it a sin that such a treasure 
should remain only in the Latin language and that others, who 
were unacquainted with it, should be robbed of it, especially since 
Dr. Martin Luther was the teacher and prophet of Germany; and 
in order that everybody, especially the fathers of homes and the 
people at large, might enjoy this treasure to their profit, advance- 
ment and consolation, have I in my weak ability translated the 
first two parts of the Exposition into German in the plainest and 
most faithful manner, and dedicated the same to your high honor 
and to other Christians of the nobility, who have been admonished 
to love and further such Christian works, for a testimony and 
praise that your highness was disposed in a Christian and praise- 
worthy manner to further such useful church works, and heartily 
inclined to do them. May our beloved God and Father of our 
Lord Jesus Christ grant that it may be helpful to many pious 
Christians! Herewith I commend your highness and the benev- 
olent Christians of the worthy nobility to the care and protection 
of Almighty God. Your humble, willing servant, 


Dated Magdeburg, St. Michael, A. D. 1557. 


Among the illustrious gifts of grace with which God endowed our 
beloved and blessed Dr. Martin Luther, as the chosen agent for 
the reformation of the Church, one of the greatest was that he 
did not only love the divine Word from his heart and held it indeed, 
dearer than thousands of gold and silver; but also that he pos- 
sessed a deep insight into and was mighty in explaining the Scrip- 
tures of the Old and New Testaments. Both were united in a 
high degree in him by the wisdom and goodness of God. He 
was indeed a great lover of the divine Word and found in it his 
greatest pleasure, when he studied it to be established in his faith 
by learning from it the way he should walk. In the many and 
various trials he had to experience he could draw from it the one 
consolation, of which he gave many proofs and at the same time 
left behind him a testimony that can not be gainsaid, which con- 
firms that for which he is in this respect honored. For his love 
and high appreciation of the sacred Scriptures he makes apparent 
upon every occasion. From the beginning of his academic career 
to its close he lectured constantly and untiringly on the Scriptures 
and sought to make his hearers acquainted with them. He found- 
ed his teachings on them and was therefore firm and immovable 
in the same. He used them against his opponents as the sword of 
the spirit, put them to flight and refuted all their errors, so that 
they could not do anything against him, especially the Papists. He 
praised the Scriptures most highly and admonished all to read 
them and pray to God for true light if they desired the true knowl- 
edge and wished to further their salvation. As great as was his 
love to the divine Books so well was he experienced in them and 
God gave him great talents to understand and explain them, He 
did not hang to the outward shell nor did he seek to apply in his 
expositions an extensive human knowledge; but he came to the 
right foundation and the true and real purpose of the Spirit of God, 
whether he had before him the legal or the evangelical Word, and 
knew a clear and impressive way to give the true meaning and 
will of God in the respective passages, especially concerning the 
universal sinful and deep ruin of mankind, the grace and merciful 
love of God, Christ the kerne! of all the holy Scriptures, righteous- 
ness by faith, the active and working character of faith, as also 
Other points of life and doctrine, which he did not do the least in 
the historical parts of the Scriptures. 

Such gifts Luther received from God because he was chosen as 
the agent of the Reformation, and they were by all means neces- 
sary to that end. For by_ means of the Scriptures the light pene- 
trated the darkness covering the world, and revealed the abomina- 
tions of the papacy. _ Hence he translated the Scriptures into 
German from the original^ texts. He placed the Bible in the hands 
of the people. Then in his sermons, academic lectures and every- 




where he diligently explained in many excellent expositions the 
divine Books, where he showed how one is to understand the Word 
of God and apply it fruitfully to his edification. 

These expository and exegetical. writings of the sainted Luther 
are written with a talent esDecially adapted for the work, and they 
have also at all times brought special blessings, although we deny 
not that some are to be preferred to others. And among Luther s. 
very best writings all agree, and rightly so, is his Commentary on 
Genesis, a short historical account of which I will now give. 

Luther began this work at Wittenberg in his lectures to trie 
university students in 1536, and ended it after ten years ot labor, 
Nov 17, 1545, only a few months before his death. So John Mathe- 
sius reports in his "Sermons on the Life of Luther,;' and then adds, 
Luther because of worry left Wittenberg for a time to visit tne 
Prince of Anhalt, at Merseburg, and wrote, "Upon his return home, 
he finished his Genesis, Nov. 17, 1545,, on which he had labored ten 
years." Ludwig von Seckendorf's "History of Lutheramsm IS the 
authority that he began this work in 1536, while in the margin ot 
the Latin edition is printed that he entered upon the exposition 
of the twenty-second chapter, Oct. 27, 1539- jb . 

In the meantime the wisdom of God directed that this glorious 
treasure should not lie buried, but should be brought to light for 
the quickening of many souls, and issued periodically in parts. 
The beginning was made while Luther was still living, and the 
first part, the Creation and the Flood, appeared in 1545. c . OI ? ta ™ 
his lectures on the first eleven chapters of Genesis, edited by Vert 
Dietrich, who heard Luther deliver the lectures while a student 
at Wittenberg, to which he wrote a dedication, and Luther added 
a short but precious "Address to the Christian Reader L both ot 
which we print in full]. Luther died in 1546, and Veit Dietrich in 
1548 but Jerome Besoldus, pastor at Nuremberg, continued the 
work and issued the three other parts or volumes at Nuremberg. 
The second volume, The History of Abraham, with a preface by 
Michael Roting, professor at Nuremberg, from the twelfth chapter 
to verse 10 of the twenty-fifth chapter, was published m 1550. Xnc 
third -volume, to the thirty-sixth chapter, appeared in 1552, witn a 
preface by Philip Melancthon, and the fourth volume to the end 
of Genesis, in 1554, prefaced by Besoldus himself Jerome Baum- 
-gartner, a councilman of Nuremberg, and a great lover of Luther s 
writings, appointed Besoldus to this work upon the death of Vert 
Dietrich, Melanchthon and Rorary approving. Jerome Besoldus 
studied at Wittenberg, heard these lectures from Luther s mouth, 
and diligently wrote a large part of them as they were delivered. 
He stayed in the home of Luther and ate at Ins table He made use. 
also! of what Dietrich, Cruciger, Rorary and Stoltz had written 
from Luther's mouth. He says when V«t Dietrich died while pre- 
paring the second volume, the enemies of the Gospel ^ sought to 
prevent its publication, and there was little hope that it should ap- 
pear in print complete. But God graciously heard the prayert of 
the godly in these dark and distressing days, who longed tor the 
last and best writings of their beloved Luther when Councilman 
Baumgartner resolved that at least what Veit Dietrich had pre- 
pared for the second volume should appear, and the result was 
the work complete was printed. 



This commentary was delivered to the students ill Latin and first 
published m that language. But soon arrangements were perfect- 
ed to issue it m German. Basil Faber, who died while rector in 
Lriurt, a celebrated educator, translated the first two volumes, 
whose dedication we give in full; and John Guden, senior pastor at 
.Brunswick, translated volumes three and four, and his dedication 
was to the same person and written on Epiphany of the same year, 
1557, a little before Faber's dedication. 

Other editions of the commentary, both in Latin and German, 
followed, and then it was incorporated in the editions of the com- 
plete works of Luther; hi the Wittenberg edition, in Latin and 
German, and in the Altenburg and the Leipsic collections in Ger- 
man, and all subsequent editions. 
That Luther himself did not make much of this work is a proof 
of his humility and that he ascribed nothing to himself, but all to 
the grace of God. Nevertheless the commentary is worthy of all 
the praise it has received. In the Formula of Concord our fore- 
fathers referred to it as a "Commentarius praeclarus," or an ex- 
cellent commentary and the Leipsic and Wittenberg theologians 
in their foal report and explanation, especially against Flacius, 
mention The Augsburg Confession," the Postils, and other sermons 
01 Luther which are full of the precious teachings and strong con- 
solation of the Holy Ghost, and all his other books on doctrine, 
especially those written after the Diet of Augsburg, in 1530 among 
the best of which are his explanations of certain Prophets 'and the 
Fsalms, the Epistle to the Galatians; and in this select list is classi- 
fied the Commentary on Genesis." They designate it as a "rich 
exposition with which he closed his calling, his ministerial office 
and his life in a blessed way. Because of this we justly esteem it 
highly. ior m the same commentary he gave full and free expres- 
sl P n , to his last convictions and confession on most of the articles 
Of the Christian faith and bequeathed them to the world." 

In like manner have other divines of our Church judged of this 
commentary and held that we should esteem it highly and that it 
proves Luther was truly a great expounder of the Scriptures. (Basil 
faber s dedication is quoted at length here, also Veit Dietrich at 
other places, but we refer the reader to their documents, which we 
give id full.) 

John Guden says: "Luther has left us in this Commentary a rich 
treasury as a legacy, and what a valuable treasure it is, they will 
truly learn, who diligently read it. As a summary, one finds here 
the true kernel of the doctrine our God has revealed to us through 
Dr. Luther, as Melanchthon, Jonas and other spiritual men have also 
rightly judged." 

Mathesius with good spiritual taste says: "He who learns to 
Know Christ in Genesis has instruction in the power of the divine 
Word and knows what sin and righteousness are, which avail be- 
fore God. My testimony concerning this blessed Commentary I 
wish to leave behind me that my natural and spiritual children may 
not forget it, but esteem it highly all their lives. My Genesis, for 
the sake of instruction and consolation, I have frequently read 
through, underscored and described. Remember this commentary 
explained to me the Word and will of Christ, and from it God 
gave comfort, rest and life to my troubled soul. For when our 

3 2 


case is like the suffering of the patriarchs and the exposition suits 
one's heart as if the Doctor really speaks with us, then the Com- 
mentary is incorporated in us and lives in us, and refreshes and 
quickens one's heart." Joachim Morlin, in "How to Read With 
Profit the Writings and Books of the Beloved and Blessed Man ot 
God Dr Martin Luther," praises above all others this Commen- 
tary' and" says: "Read the following 'Consummatum Est,' *It Is Fin- 
ished,' of this holy man, 'The Beloved Genesis," in which as in a 
new world he brings forth and opens up not only certain parts but 
all the treasures and riches of the wisdom of the divine Word, so 
that there is not another book like it on earth since the times of 
the apostles. Luther's Genesis makes all theologians scholars. 
Jerome Wcller says: "Luther's Commentary on Genesis is his 
Swan Song. For although all Luther's writings are full of man- 
ifold doctrines and consolations, yet his Commentary on Genesis 
excels all others. There is hardly a temptation for which he has 
not given in this Commentary a sure remedy; yes, Luther has ex- 
celled himself iu this Commentary. Therefore I continually ad- 
monish all theological students again and again that they read this 
commentary diligently and assiduously and never lay it out of their 
hands, but seek 10 be wedded to it. For 1 can assure yon I received 
more benefit from this commentary than from almost all the other 
writings of Luther. Therefore I will never be satisfied nor tired of 
reading it. If all that has been written since the apostles were 
gathered in one heap, they would not be worthy to be compared 
with this Commentary. I know that I speak the truth, and all who 
have experienced the truth and learned theologians share my con- 
victions." . 

Not that the work does not praise itself but that we may better 
know that not only a few but that the teachers of our Church gener- 
ally, have at all times justly emphasized its praise, I add a few 
more testimonies. Timothy Kirchner, in the preface to his The- 
saurus Dr. Luther? (1565), says: "In this book all theologians 
must go to school, and no one will graduate in it. Luther, the man 
of God, has so clearly and richly treated in it nearly all the great- 
est and most important articles of our Christian faith, that the 
like, the holy Bible alone excepted, has not appeared in the world 
and indeed will not. It will be and remain indeed a Thesaurus 
thcsaiirontm,' a treasury of treasuries, and a perennial fountain ot 
alt consolation, along with the Bible." David Chytraeus (IJS9 
also does not know how to praise this work enough, he says: it 
is a Swan Song and at the same time a complete work tn every re- 
spect Not only is it a rich treasure of spiritual wisdom and learn- 
ing, clothed in fine, rich language, and an accurate explanation of 
all the difficult passages and questions, but it has also developed in 
its language a special and characteristic power, which moves the 
soul of the reader and inspires him to true piety fear of God, faith 
and other virtues." He admonishes all the godly attentively and 
diligently to read this last work of Luther, and advertise It in prel- 
erence to other writings, which are indeed learned, but are not as 
awakening as this one. Daniel Cramer agrees with Chytraeus 
and says in his "Isagogics," in 1630: "Whoever has not read this 
Commentary is not worthy of the name of a theologian. Abraham 



Calov 111 his preface to his "Commentary on Genesis" (1671), calls 
this A golden book," and Thomas Crenius (1704), "A work that 
can not be praised enough." Christian Gerber expresses his con- 
viction thus: "The writings of Luther are worthy to be esteemed 
more highly and used more diligently. His Commentary on Gen- 
esis is a remarkable book, not only awakening but useful and edify- 
m B to read, He has so beautifully described the virtues and piety 
of the holy patriarchs that one can hardly read them enough when 
he once begins. One could draw from this Commentary .in excel- 
lent patriarchal and Christian system of ethics, and it is to be 
hoped that some theologian will do it, which would indeed he a 
useful and excellent book." Again John Heinrcich von Scelcn 
writes: It is a treasure more precious that gold, containing ines- 
timable riches of holy thoughts, so that some have rightly judged 
that this is the best of all Luther's books." Von Scckendorf writes: 
One is really amazed at the almost incredible gifts of Luther to 
explain the holy Scriptures so critically and clearly without any 
great effort He studied the greatest expounders of the Bible. 
He was little concerned about his wor.ds and style and dictated 
nothing-, and the same thoughts he uttered on other occasions in 
different words, for he was never in want of words." Many more 
like testimonies could be quoted. 

The foregoing words of praise are well grounded, as every one 
who has thoughtfully and diligently read this book must confess. 
What Richard Simon, the Jewish critic, and Pallavieinu.% Maimburg 
and other enemies of the Prolestant faith have said against it only 
prove their own ignorance and darkness in spiritual knowledge and 
makes Lnther shine forth all the brighter. When von Seckendorf 
wished to make extracts from this Commentary, so many import- 
ant subjects and passages were found that he did not know which 
to select._ 

There is a glorious work for this book of the sainted Luther to 
accomplish. From it the learned and the unlearned may be taught 
thetrue meaning of Genesis, gain a critical insight into many theo- 
logical subjects and reap much for their private devotions. There- 
fore it is well that new editions of it are constantly being issued 
andean opportunity is given to a larger number to read it. This 
edition will be found more correct and accurate than the others, 
and also more serviceable and convenient. This is due to the pub- 
lisher, Mr. John Gottgetreu Mueller, who has chosen not only good 
Taper and print, but also a convenient form (a quarto instead of a 
folio form). May the Lord of lords make this labor of the sainted 
Luther to be a greater blessing, so that his most holy name may 
further be glorified and many souls be established in the saving 
knowledge of the Gospel, or encouraged to that end, for the sake 
of his merciful love. Amen. 

Jena, April 6th, 1739. 



"This invaluable and last production of the loved and revered 
reformer is a rich and precious mine of sacred wisdom; a vast 
treasury of deep research, of varied scriptural knowledge and of 
extensive Christian experience; in a word, it is a profound and 
comprehensive body of biblical, sacred-historical, doctrinal, spirit- 
ual and experimental divinity. So that a Christian who procures 
"Luther on Galatians' and 'Luther on Genesis' passesses a com- 
plete treasury of rich, solid and saving theology, 

"Indeed it is impossible to convey by any command of description 
an idea of the extent, depth and richness of the mine of Christian 
knowledge and experience, which Luther's long hidden and un- 
known exposition of Genesis contains. The sins, trials, afflictions, 
faith, hope, deliverances, joys and duties of kings, princes, magis- 
trates, husbands, wives, parents, children, masters and servants, 
rich and poor, are treated, as they occur in the lives of the patriarchs 
and prominent characters of, the divine Record. 

"I hesitate not a moment to express my fullest persuasion that 
the Church of Christ will consider Luther's commentary on Genesis 
the deepest and most spiritual exposition of any book or portion 
of the holy Scriptures in existence; entering the most deeply and 
clearly into God's mind, and furnishing the most profound, varied 
and blessed edification for the family of heaven; and also the most 
useful, truthful, valuable and divine instruction for the world at 

"As an expositor of the holy Scriptures Luther's comments con- 
tain a depth of investigation impenetrated, a widthof meditation 
unspanned, an extent of research unoccupied, a scriptural knowl- 
edge unpossessed, a variety of reflections unevinced, a multitude 
of wonders unrevealed, a number of beauties undiscovered, a value 
of instruction uncommunicated, a spirit of holiness unbreathed, a 
height of praise unascended, a depth of worship unfathomed, and 
a magnification of the Scriptures as the Word of God, unsurpassed 
and unequalled by any commentator, before or since his day." 

This divine and educator of the Church of England says Luther's 
Commentary on Genesis is "Doubtless the masterpiece of the great- 
est of the extra Bible saints and servants of the Most High." 
"What an ox-like labor, or as the reformer expresses it, 'what a 
ministerial sweat!'" "This greatest of all commentaries." 

Space will not permit more. In the second volume on Genesis 
wc hope to say more on the place this commentary has held and 
ought to hold in English Protestantism. 


Dr. Cole in his preface, dated London, Feb. 2nd, 1857, records 
to the praise of God that, "It came in a most remarkable and wholly 




unexpected way to the knowledge of a noble lady of Scotland, Lady 
M that the "Creation," the first part of Luther's great com- 
mentary on Genesis, was translated; and that the translator was at 
a loss for ways and means whereby to print and publish it; and, 
after two tetters of favored communication and explanation be- 
tween the translator and her ladyship, this "noble" disciple of the 
Redeemer, I Cor. 1:26, in her second letter at once with divine 
nobleness of mind purchased the manuscript at its full fixed price, 
without one word about abatement; and she also as nobly under- 
took to print and publish it at her own expense. From her lady- 
ship's communications it appeared that she herself was 'brought to 
the knowledge of the truth' by reading translations of Luther's writ- 
ings. Her present holy acts of service to the cause of truth were 
therefore those of gratitude to God, of love and honor to the name 
of Luther, and of encouragement to his humble translators." 

Years before, this lady read of Dr. Cole's intention to translate 
Luther on Genesis, but it did not appear. Thinking that the trans- 
lator had no doubt "gone the way of all the earth," she made an 
effort to have it translated and published, in order to be benefited 
still more by reading Luther in English. Hence her great surprise 
after many years to receive a letter from Dr. Cole, stating the 
manuscript was finally ready. She replied thus: "My Dear Sir:— 
Your letter was the cause of much interest and surprise to me; 
for about the time that you completed your translation of "The 
Creation" by Luther, I was anxiously inquiring from every one I 
could think of, to know if there was any one ^vho could and would 
translate it; and I bought the work on Genesis in the original in 
hope to find some one to translate it; but upon inquiring of Messrs 

.... and others, I found that the translation and publication 

would be so expensive that I was obliged to abandon the thought 

It thus pleased all-wise God to choose not a rich son of his 
but a daughter to execute his blessed work. May God grant that 
this interest so general and promising in England and Scotland 
half a century ago m translating Luther may be revived by all the 
sons and daughters who have been benefited by his writings! 

Minneapolis, Minn., Nov. 28th, 1903. 



My lectures on Genesis I did not undertake with the inten- 
tion that they be published and advertised ; but in order that I 
might serve for a time our University as it is at present, and 
that I might exercise my audience and myself in the Word of 
God ; lest I should finish the death of this body in an old age 
indolent and entirely useless. To this end Ps. 146 :2 awakened 
and encouraged me: "While I live will I praise Jehovah; I 
will sing praises unto my God while I have any being." 

Moreover, I undertook the work in order that I might be 
found at death among that "little flock" and of those "babes," 
out of whose mouth "God perfects praise" or establishes 
strength, by which he destroys the enemy and the avenger, 
Fs. 8:2. For the world always has enough monsters and 
devils, who blaspheme, corrupt and pervert the Word of God, 
so that God be not adorned with his glory, but Satan instead is 

It however so happened that these lectures fell into the hands 
of two good and pious men who collected them. Dr. Casper 
Cruciger, whose books sufficiently testify how he was led by 
the spirit of God and by the study of his Word; and Mr. 
George Rorary, the ministers of our church here at Wittenberg. 
Their work was followed by that of Master Veit Dietrich, the 
pastor at Nuremberg, who contributed his share. All of these 
men are truly faithful, scholarly and zealous ministers of the 
Word of God, and their judgment is that these lectures should 
by all means be published. For my part I leave them to act 
according to their own conviction, as St. Paul says, "Let each 
man be fully assured in his own mind," Rom. 14:5, and as 
I see that the}- are moved by a holy zeal to serve the congrega- 
tions of the Church of Christ, I therefore strongly approve of 




their intention and I pray that the benediction of God may rest 
upon them 1 

However I would prefer that their Christian labors and valu- 
able time were spent on a better book and a better author. For 
I am not one of whom it can be said, "He did a good work" ; 
neither one of whom you can say, "He tried to do a good 
work" ; I belong to the last order of authors, who dare scarcely 
say, "I desired to do a good work." Oh, that I might be worthy 
of being the last in this last order. For all these lectures were 
delivered in an extemporaneous and popular form, just as the 
expressions came into my mouth, following in quick succession 
and also mixed with German, and surely more verbose than I 

Not however that I am conscious of having spoken anything 
contrary to the truth. My chief aim has been, as far as pas- 
sible, to avoid obscurity and present as perspicuous as my 
talent and ability could the things which I wished to have un- 
derstood. For I feci keenly that these weighty matters of 
which Moses wrote have been treated by me in a manner far 
beneath their dignity and importance. But I console myself 
with the old proverb, "Let him fail who attempts to do a thing 
better than he is able" ; and with this Scripture, "God requires 
nothing of a man beyond the ability he has given him." 2 Cor. 

But why multiply words? That of which we treat arc the 
Scriptures ; the Scriptures, I say, of the Holy Spirit, and for 
these things, as St. Paul says, who is sufficient? 2 Cor, 3:5. 
They are a river, says Gregory, in which a lamb may walk or 
touch bottom and an elephant must swim. They are the wis- 
dom of God which makes the wise of this world and "the 
prince" of it fools ; which makes babes eloquent, and the elo- 
quent men babes. 

In a word he is not the best, who comprehends all things 
and never fails, for such a one never has been, is not now and 
never will be; but he is the best here who loves the most, as 
Ps, 1 :2 says, "Blessed is the man that lovcth the law of Jehovah 
and meditateth on it." Abundantly sufficient is it for us, if we 



delight in this divine wisdom, love it and meditate on it day and 

Wc examine the commentaries of the fathers and rind that 
the good will was certainly not lacking among them, but to do 
it they were not able. And how ridiculous are all of our day, 
who attempt to explain the great tilings, the Scriptures by a 
beautiful, as they term it, by a pure Latinity or by paraphrases, 
being themselves utterly destitute of the spirit and of under- 
standing, and no more competent to treat such holy things 
than, as the proverb runs, "Asses are to play upon a harp." 
Jerome correctly said, Every one brings the offering to the 
tabernacle he can afford. One brings gold, another silver, 
another precious stones and the skins or the hair of goats. For 
the Lord has need of all these things. The wills of all were 
equally pleasing to him, though their offerings were not equal. 

Therefore I permit these few goat hairs of mine to be pub- 
lished, as my offering and sacrifice unto God, whom I be- 
seech in Christ Jesus, our Lord, that he would, through my 
labors, give occasion to others to do better or at least to exert 
themselves to explain these things better than I have done. 
As to my adversaries and their god, the devil, I believe with 
holy pride and exultation in the Lord, that I have given occa- 
sions enough to them to cavil and calumniate, for this I have 
continually and liberally done from the beginning of my min- 
istry. This is the only service they are worthy to perform, for 
they neither can do nor desire to do anything that is good ; be- 
ing, as Paul says, "men of corrupt minds ; and unto every good 
work reprobate/' Tit. i :i5, 16. 

May our Lord Jesus Christ perfect his work, which he hath 
begun in us and hasten that day of our redemption, for which 
we long with uplifted heads, and for which we sigh and wait 
in pure faith and a good conscience, in which we have also 
served an ungrateful world, a world that is the incorrigible 
enemy even of its own, to say nothing of our, salvation. "Come, 
Lord Jesus!" and let every one that loves thee, say, "Come, 
Lord Jesus!" Amen. 




This first chapter of our Holy Bible is written in the simplest 
and plainest language, and yet it contains the greatest and at 
the same time the most difficult themes. Therefore the Jews, 
a3 Jerome testifies, were forbidden to read it or hear it read 
before they were thirty years of age. The Jews required that 
all the other Scriptures be well known by every one before they 
were permitted to approach this chapter. Their Rabbins how- 
ever accomplished little good by this, for even many of the 
Rabbins themselves, whose years were more than twice thirty, 
give in their commentaries and Talmuds the most childish 
and foolish explanations of these, the greatest of all subjects. 

Nor has any one yet in the church to the present day ex- 
plained all these momentous things correctly and satisfactorily 
in every respect. For interpreters have confused and entangled 
every thing with such a variety, diversity and infinity of ques- 
tions that it is very clear that God reserved to himself the ma- 
jesty of this wisdom, and the correct understanding of this 
chapter, leaving to us only the general ideas that the world had 
a beginning and was created by God out of nothing. This gen- 
eral knowledge may clearly be taken from the text. But with 
respect to the particulars, there is so much that one cannot be 
clear about and hence innumerable questions have continually 
been raised in commentaries. 




From Moses however we know that 6000 years ago the 
world did not exist. But of this no philosopher can in any 
way be persuaded; because, according- to Aristotle the first 
and the last man cannot in any way be determined, although 
however Aristotle leaves the problem in doubt whether or not 
the world is eternal, yet he is inclined to the opinion that it is 
eternal. For human reason cannot ascend higher than to 
declare that the world is eternal, and an infinite generation pre- 
ceded us and will fallow us. Here human reason is forced to 
stand still. However from this belief follows as a consequence 
the perilous opinion that the soul is mortal, because philosophy 
knows no plurality of infinities. For it cannot be, but that 
human reason must be overwhelmed and shipwrecked in the 
?ea of the majesty of these themes. 

Plato collected, perhaps in Egypt, some traditional sparks 
as it were from the sermons of the fathers and prophets, and 
therefore he came nearer the truth than others. He holds that 
matter and mind are eternal ; but he says that the world had a 
beginning and that it was made out of matter. But I cease to 
mention the opinions of philosophers, for Lyra cites these al- 
though he docs not explain them. 

Tims neither among the Hebrews, Greeks nor Latins is there 
,1 leading teacher whom we can follow here with safety. 
Therefore 1 shall be pardoned if I shall see what I can say 
on the subject. For except the one general opinion that the 
world was created out of nothing there is scarcely another 
thing connected with the subject on which there is entire agree- 
ment among all theologians. 

Hilary and Augustine, two great lights in the church, be- 
lieved that the world was made -on a sudden and all at once, 
not successively during the space of six days. Augustine 
plays upon these six days in a marvelous manner in explain- 
ing them. He considers them to be mystical days of knowledge 
in the angels, and not natural days. Hence have arisen those 
continual discussions in the schools and in churches concern- 
ing the evening and morning knowledge, which Augustine was 



the cause of being introduced. These are all diligently col- 
lected and particularly mentioned by Lyra. Let those there- 
fore who wish to know more about them consult Lyra. 

But all these disputations, though subtle and clever, are not 
to the point in question. For what need is there to make a 
two-fold knowledge. Equally useless is it to consider Moses 
in the beginning of his history as speaking mystically or alle- 
gorically. For as he is not instructing us concerning allegorical 
creatures and an allegorical world, but concerning essential 
creatures and a world visible and apprehensive by the senses, 
he calls, as we say in our trite proverb, "a post, a post ;" that 
is, when he says morning or day or evening, his meaning is 
the same as ours when we use those terms, without any alle- 
gory whatever. Thus the Evangelist Matthew, in his last 
chapter, uses the same maimer ot expression when he says that 
Christ arose on the evening of the Sabbath; that is, at that 
time of one of the Sabbath days which was formed by the even- 
ing light. But if we cannot fully comprehend the days here 
mentioned nor understand why God chose to use these intervals 
of time, let us rather confess our ignorance in the matter than 
wrest the words of Moses from the circumstances which he 
is recording to a meaning, which has nothing to do with those 

With respect therefore to this opinion of Augustine, we 
conclude that Moses spoke literally and plainly and neither 
allegorically nor figuratively : that is, he means that the world 
with all creatures was created in six days as he himself express- 
es it. If we cannot attain unto a comprehension of the reason 
why it was so, let us still remain scholars and leave all the 
preceptorship to the Holy Spirit ! 

These days were distinguished thus. On the first day the 
unformed mass of heaven and earth was created to which light 
was then added. On the second day the firmament. On the 
third day the earth was produced out of the waters and its 
fruits created. On the fourth day the heavens were adorned by 
the creation of the sun, moon and stars. On the fifth dav the 


fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air. On the sixth day 
the beasts of the earth were created, and Man was made. I 
say nothing of the other views which divide these sacred mat- 
ters into the work of creation, of distinction, and of ornation, 
because I do not think such divisions of the subject can be 
made to harmonize in all respects with each other. If any one 
admire such views let him consult Lyra. 

As to Lyra thinking- that a knowledge of the opinion of 
philosophers concerning matter is necessary, and that on such 
knowledge must depend a man's understanding the six days' 
work of creation, I question whether Lyra himself really un- 
derstood what Aristotle calls matter. For Aristotle does not, 
like Ovid, call the original unformed chaotic mass matter. 
Wherefore omitting these unnecessary subjects altogether, let 
us come at once to Moses as a far better teacher, whom we 
mav more safely follow than we may philosophers, who dispute 
without the Word about things they do not understand. 


V. I. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, 
A necessary and a very difficult question arises here, in 
that Moses speaks of the creation of the heavens and the earth, 
and yet does not mention the day on which nor the Word by 
which they were created. For one naturally inquires why 
Moses did not rather use the same form of words here, as he 
did subsequently, where mention is made of the Word thus: 
"In the beginningj God said, Let there be the heavens and the 
earth?" For Moses mentions "the heavens and the earth" 
before God had spoken anything, whereas both the Decalogue 
and the whole Scripture testify that God made the heavens 
and the earth, and all that in them is, "in six days." But as I 
said before, we enter on this path without a guide. We leave 
therefore to others to follow their own judgment here, while 
we will expound it according to our views. 



Not those elements which now are, but the original rude and 
unformed suhstances Moses calls "the heavens and earth." 
The water was dark, and because it was by nature the lighter 
element it surrounded the earth, itself also as yet unformed 
was a kind of mud. God formed this first material, if I mav 
so call it, of his future work, not before or apart from the six 
days, but, according to the express words of the Decalogue, in 
the "beginning" of the first day. 

As I view the matter therefore Moses docs not mention here 
the first day, because these confused substances of the hitherto 
rude heavens and earth were afterwards formed, and as it 
were fully adorned and distinguished. For what he immed- 
iately calls the "deep" and the "waters ;" that is, the rude and 
unformed water which was not yet distributed nor adorned 
with its proper form, he here calls "the heavens ;" whereas, had 
Moses spoken otherwise and had said, "In the beginning God 
said, Let there be the heavens and the earth ;" there would 
have been no need of afterwards saying, "God said ;" seeing 
that these unformed waters would have been already illuminat- 
ed and the light would have been already created. 

The meaning of Moses therefore in all simplicity is that all 
things which now exist were created by God and that "in the 
beginning" of the first day were created the mass of mud or 
of earth, and of dark mist or of water; on which afterwards, 
in the after part of the first day, God shed the light and caused 
the day to appear, which might discover this rude mass of 
"the heavens and the earth ;" which was in all respects like un- 
developed seed, and yet adapted to produce whatever God 
should require. 

V. 2-a. And the earth zvas zaastc and void. 

In the Hebrew words tohu and eoiiu there is no more 
meaning than can be expressed in any other language, yet these 
terms are frequently used in the sacred Scriptures. toiiu 
means "nothing," so that a toiiu earth means, in its simple 
reality, that which is in itself "empty" or "waste ;" where there 
is no way, no distinction of places, -io hill, no vale, no grass, no 
herbs, no animals, no men. And such was the first appearance 



of the waste and untitled earth, for while the water was mixed 
with the carlh no distinctions of those various objects could be 
discerned, which are clearly seen since the earth's formation and 

Thus Isaiah, 34:11, when threatening- destruction to the 
whole earth says "There shall be stretched upon it the line of 
Tour, confusion; and the plummet of bohu, emptiness;" that 
is, it shall be made so desolate that neither men nor beasts shall 
be left upon it ; all houses shall he devastated and all things 
hurled into chaos and confusion. Just as Jerusalem was after- 
wards laid waste by the Romans and Rome by the Goths, so 
that no vestige of the ancient city as it once was could be 
pointed out. You now behold the earth standing out of the 
waters, the heavens adorned with stars, the fields with trees, 
and cities with houses : hut should all these things be taken 
away and hurled into confusion and into one chaotic heap, the 
state of things thus produced would be what Moses calls tohu 
and uonu. 

As the earth was surrounded with darkness or with waters 
over which darkness brooded, so also the heaven was unformed. 
It was not only tohu because it was destitute of the garnish- 
ing of the stars, and uom: because it was not yet separated and 
distinguished from the earth, but because it was as yet alto- 
gether destitute of light and a dark and deep abyss which 
like a dense cloud enveloped the earth, or that mass of mud; 
for the division of the waters from the waters follows later. 

Here then we have the first thing which Moses teaches: that 
the heavens and the earth were created on the first day ; but, 
that the heaven was as yet unformed, not separated from the 
waters, destitute of its luminaries, and not elevated to its posi- 
tion; and the carlh in like manner was as yet without its ani- 
mals, its rivers and its mountains. 

As to Lyra's argument thai this original matter was mere 
power and was afterward rendered substance by its own power, 
or as to what Augustine says in his book of "Confessions," that 
matter is as it were nothing, and that no medium matter can be 

(JliXtSIS 1. 


thought of between the Creator and the thing created; such 
subtle disquisitions I by no means approve. For how could 
lhal be a mere nothing which was already of such material and 
substance that Moses calls it "the heavens and the earth"? 
Unless indeed you would call it artificially the same kind of 
matter which you call wood, which is not yet wrought into a 
chest or a bench. But this latter substance is what true phil- 
osophers would call matter in a secondary state. 

We should rather consider the whole subject, as Peter con- 
siders it, 2 Pet. 3 : 5, where speaking of the wicked, he says 
"For this they wilfully forget, that there were heavens from 
of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, 
by the word of God; by which means the world that then was, 
being overflowed with water, perished." For Peter seems to 
intimate that the earth consists of water, and was made out of 
water, and that after it was produced out of water and placed 
as it were in the light, it swam as it now seems to do in the 
water. This, says he, the wicked knew, and therefore being 
confident of this condition of things, they feared no peril from 
water, which they knew to be the fundamental substance of 
the earth. Yet the water destroyed that earth which it pre- 
served, buoyed up and bore; just as at the last it shall be de- 
stroyed by fire. From this intimation of Peter, it would appear, 
that the earth was made to stand in the water, and out of the 
water. But let this suffice concerning the original matter or 
material. If any one should discuss the subject with greater 
subtlety of argument, I do not think he would do so, with any 

V. 2b. And darkness ::<as upon the face of the deep. 

The "water," the "deep," and the "heavens," are here put 
for the same thing; namely, for that dark unformed substance 
which afterwards was divided by the Word For it was the 
office of the second Person of the Trinity, namely Christ, the 
Son of God, to divide and adorn that chaotic mass produced 
from nothing. And tin's may have been the very design of Mos- 
es in not mentioning the Word in the first place; that is, in not 



saying at first, "And God said." For some maintain that this 
was done by Moses purposely. 

V. 2c. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the 

Some consider "the Spirit of God" here to mean merely the 
wind. But if anything material is here to be understood by 
"Spirit/' I should rather refer it to the first moving of the orig- 
inal unformed mass of heaven and earth, which is called "the 
deep," which is always in motion to this day ; for water is never 
still, its surface is always in motion. But 1 prefer here to un- 
derstand the Holy Spirit. For the wind is a creature which did 
not exist, while as yet the heavens and the cartli lay in that 
confused chaotic mass. 

There is moreover an universal agreement of the Christian 
Church concerning a revelation of the mystery of the Holy Trin- 
ity in this first creative work. The Father through the Son, 
whom Moses here calls the Word, creates "the heavens and the 
earth" out ol nothing. Over these the Holy Spirit broods. And 
as a hen sits upon her eggs that she may hatch her young, thus 
warming her eggs and as it were infusing into them animation, 
so the Scriptures say the Holy Ghost brooded as it were on the 
waters; that He might infuse life into these elementary sub- 
stances which were afterwards to be animated and garnished. 
For the office of the Holy Spirit is to give life. 

These explanations, as far as 1 see, are sufficient for our 
present purpose. Wherefore casting away all other diverse opin- 
ions, let us set down this as the truth, that God created "the 
heavens and the earth," as yet a rude mass, out of nothing; so 
that the earth, as an unformed chaotic mass, enveloped the 
heaven as yet also an unformed mass, like a dark, circumfluent, 
nebulous cloud. 

It is necessary however that we discuss the terms here used. 
At the very beginning of this discussion we are met by the ex- 
pression "in the beginning." Some have expounded the words 
"In the beginning" as meaning "In the Son," from John i : r ; 
seeing that Christ also gives to the Jews when they inquired 



"who He was?" this answ r er, "The beginning, who also spcrk 
unto you," John 8:25. This same exposition is given also 
from Ps. 110:3, ''With thec is the Beginning, in the day of thy 
power ;" which passage nearly all commentators expound as 
meaning, "With thee is thy Son in divine power." Bui it is well 
known to those acquainted with the Greek language that the ex- 
pression tan Archan. should be rendered by an adverbial phras- 
eology "at first" or "in the beginning," etc. It is a figure of 
speech which we frequently meet in Greek. Wherefore let 
those who will, amuse themselves by thus interpreting the 
expression "In the beginning." I prefer the simplest explana- 
tion which can be at once understood by the less learned. 

My belief is therefore that the design of Moses was to signify 
the beginning of time; so that "In the beginning" has the same 
meaning as if he had said, "At that time before which there was 
no time." Or he means that when the world began it so began 
that the heavens and the earth were created by God out of 
nothing; but created in a rude shapeless mass, not formed and 
beautified as they now arc. Though they lay not long thus, 
but began immediately on the first day to be garnished with the 

The Arians imagined that angels and the Son of God were 
made before "the beginning." But let us pass by this blasphemy. 
We will omit also another question, "What was God doing be- 
fore the beginning of the world;" was he in a state of entire 
inaction or not? To this question Augustine introduced in his 
Confession the reply, "He was making a hell for all searchers 
into his secrets." This reply says Augustine was made to rid- 
icule the violent and audacious blasphemy of the question. 

The modesty therefore of Augustine pleases one, who else- 
where candidly says that in all such cases he draws in the sails 
of his thoughts. For if we speculate and dispute to infinity, 
these things still remain incomprehensible. Even those things 
which we see we can understand but little. I low much less then 
shall we grasp in our knowledge such things as these. For what 
will you determine concerning things that were before and be- 



yond time? Or what can be your thoughts of things God did 
before time was ? Wherefore let us away with all such thoughts 
and believe that God before the creation of the world was in- 
comprehensible in his essential rest, but that now since the 
creation he is within and without and above all creatures ; that 
is, he is still incomprehensible. This is all that can be said, be- 
cause that which was outside of time our intellect can not com- 

Wherefore God does not manifest himself in anything but 
in his works and in his Word ; because these can in some meas- 
ure be comprehended, all other things which properly belong to 
his divinity, cannot be comprehended or understood, as they 
really are; such as those things which were beyond time and 
before the world's creation, etc. Perhaps God appeared to 
Adam unveiled ; but after his sin he may have shown himself to 
him in "a noise," Gen. 3 :8, under which he was covered as 
with a veil. So also later in the tabernacle God was veiled by 
the sanctuary ; and in the desert by the pillar of a cloud and 
by the pillar of fire. Wherefore Moses also calls these things 
appearances" or "shadowings" of God, by which he then mani- 
fested himself. And Cain calls that the "face" and the "pres- 
ence" of God where he had before offered his sacrifices, Gen. 
4 114. For our nature is so deformed by sin, yea corrupted and 
lost, that it cannot understand God naked and unveiled nor 
comprehend what he really is. Therefore it is that these cov- 
ering veils are absolutely necessary. 

It is moreover insanity to dispute much concerning God as to 
what he was beyond and before time, for that is to desire to 
comprehend naked divinity or the naked divine essence. And 
it is for this very reason that God has wrapt himself in the 
veils of his works and under certain visible appearances, just 
as at this day he veils himself under baptism, absolution, etc. 
If you depart from these veiling signs, you at once run away 
beyond measure, beyond place and beyond time into the most 
absolute nothing ; concerning which, as philosophers say, there 
can be no knowledge. Therefore it is that we with solemn pro- 

GEKliSJS 1. 


priety enter not into this question; but rest content with this 
simple meaning of the expression, "In the beginning." 

II. But it is more worthy of observation that Moses does not 
say "In the beginning, adoni, the Lord created the heavens and 
the earth;" but he uses a noun of the plural number elohim; 
by which name, in the Books of Moses, and in other parts of 
the Scriptures both angels and magistrates ar-e sometimes called. 
As in Ps. 82 : 6, "I have said ye are gods," It is certain how- 
ever that here it signifies the one true God, by whom all things 
were made. Why therefore does Moses here use a plural noun 
or name? 

The Jews cavil at Moses in various ways. To us however 
it is clear that the intent of Moses is to set forth directly the 
Trinity; or the plurality of persons in the one divine nature. 
For as he is speaking of the work of the creation it manifestly 
follows that he excludes angels, who are creatures, from the 
creative work. There remains therefore this sacred conclu- 
sion of the whole matter; that God is One, and that this most 
perfect Unity is also a most perfect Trinity. For how other- 
wise does Moses use the plural number, "In the beginning 
elohim created." 

The cold and wicked cavilling of the Jews therefore is to 
be altogether exploded, when they say that Moses used the 
plural number for the sake of reverence. For what place is 
there here for the exercise of reverence? Especially since 
that which is an idiom among us Germans is not common to 
all languages; namely, that it should be considered a point 
of reverence to use the plural number when speaking of one 

Although the Jews make so much noise about this term 
elohim being applied to angels and to men, be it remembered 
that it is in the plural number in this place where it cannot 
possibly be applied to any but the one true God, because 
Moses is treating of the Creation. There were moreover 
many other singular nouns which Moses might have used 
had he not purposely intended to show to the spiritually 



minded, that in the divine nature there is before and in- 
dependently of all creation and all creatures, a plurality of 
persons. He does not indeed say in plain terms, there is 
the Father, there is tlie Son, and there is the Holy Ghost; 
and they are the one true God ; because that was reserved for 
the doctrine of the Gospel. It was enough for him by the use 
of a plural noun though afterwards applied to men also, to 
set forth this plurality of the divine persons. 

Nor ought it to offend us that this same term is afterwards 
applied to creatures. For why should not God communicate 
his name unto us, seeing that he communicates to us his 
power, and his office? For us to remit sins, to retain sins, to 
quicken to spiritual life, etc., are the works of the divine 
Majesty alone; and yet these same works are a sign to men 
and they are wrought by the Word which men teach. Thus 
Paul said, 'That I may save some of them that are my flesh," 
Rom. ii :I4. And again, "I am become all things to all men, 
that I may by all means save some," i Car. 9 :22. As there- 
fore these works are truly the works of God, although they are 
assigned also unto men and are wrought by means of men ; 
so the name of God truly represents God though it is applied 
also to men. 

Arius could not deny that Christ existed before the world 
was created, because Christ himself says, "Before Abraham 
was, I am," John 8 158. It is written in the Proverbs, 8 32, 
also, "Before the heavens were, I am." Arius is obliged 
therefore to confess that Christ or the Word was created 
before all things, and that he afterwards created all things, 
and that he was the most perfect of all creatures though 
he did not exist from everlasting. But to this fanatical 
and impious opinion we ought to oppose that which Moses 
so briefly expresses by the term "In the beginning." Nor 
does Moses place anything before "the beginning" but God 
himself ; and him he here represents by a plural noun. 

Into these absurd opinions do minds fall when they spec- 
ulate on such mighty things without the Word. We know 



not ourselves ; as Lucretius says, "Man knows not the na- 
ture of his own soul." We feel that we can judge, enum- 
erate, distinguish quantities, and, if I may so call them, 
spiritual creatures, such as truth and falsehood, and yet 
we cannot to this day define what the soul is. How much 
less then shall we be able to understand the divine nature ! 
We know not for instance wbat is the motion of our will ; 
for it is not a motion of quality or of quantity : and yet it 
is some motion. What then can we know of things divine? 

It is fanatical therefore to dispute concerning God and the 
divine nature without the Word and without some veiling 
representation. Yet thus do all heretics ; and they think and 
dispute respecting God with the same security as they wotlkl 
respecting a hog or a cow. Therefore they receive a reward 
worthy their temerity ; for by these means they are dashed on 
the rocks of every peril. Hence he who would contemplate 
such mighty things in safety and without danger must con- 
fine himself with all simplicity within those representations, 
signs and veils of the divine Majesty, his word and his 
works. For it is in his word and his works that he reveals 
himself unto us ; and such as attain unto the knowledge of these 
are like the woman laboring under the issue of blood, healed 
by touching these hems of his garment. 

Those on the other hand who strive to reach God without 
these veils and coverings, attempt to scale heaven without a 
ladder, that is, without the Word; and in so doing are over- 
whelmed by the majesty of God, which they vainly endeavor 
to comprehend, and they fall and perish. And so it befell 
Arius. He conceived the imagination that there was some 
medium between the Creator and the creature ; and that by 
that medium all things were created. Into this error he 
necessarily fell the moment he denied contrary to the Scrip- 
tures a plurality of persons in the divine nature. But as he 
discussed these things without the Word of God and depend- 
ed solely on his own cogitations, he could not but be thus 
dashed to pieces. 


Thus the monk of the Papists, because he follows not the 
Word, imagines such a God to be sitting in heaven as will 
save any one who is covered with a cowl and observes a 
certain strict rule of life. Such a one also attempts to as- 
cend into heaven by his own cogitations without God as 
revealed in his Word, or without the revealed face of God 
for his guide. Thus also the Jews had their idols and their 
groves. The fall and the destruction of all are alike. They 
are precipitated and dashed to pieces; because every one 
leaving the Word follows his own imaginations. 

If therefore wc would walk safely we must embrace those 
things which the Word teaches, and which God himself has 
willed us to know ; and all other things which are not re- 
vealed in the Word we must leave. For what are those 
things to me, which God did before the world was made, 
or how can I comprehend them? This is indulging thoughts 
upon the naked Divinity. And these are the thoughts by 
which the Jews suffer themselves to be led away from this 
text; and which thus prevent them from believing in a 
plurality of persons in the deity; whereas it is evident that 
Moses employs a plural noun. 

The papal decree condemned the Anthropomorphists 
(manlikeners), because they spoke of God as they would of 
a man, and attributed to him eyes, ears, arms, etc. An un- 
just condemnation truly! For how otherwise can man talk 
with man concerning God? If to think thus of God be 
heresy; then for a certainty is the salvation of all children, 
who can only think and speak thus as children concerning 
God, at an end for ever. But to say nothing about children, 
give me the most learned doctor in all the world ; how other- 
wise will even he speak and teach concerning God? 

An injury therefore was thereby done to good men; who, 
though they believed God to be omnipotent and the only 
Saviour, yet were condemned merely because they said God 
has eyes by which he looks upon the poor and needy, and 
ears by which he listens to their prayers. For how other- 



wise can this our nature undersianu the spiritual reality of 
God. Moreover the Scriptures use this form of speech. 
Wherefore such were undeservedly condemned. They 
should rather have been lauded for the simplicity which they 
studied ; which is so requisite in all teaching. It is absolutely 
necessary that when God reveals himself unto us, he should 
do so under some veil of representation, some shadowing 
manifestation, and should say, "Behold under this veil thou 
shalt surely discover me." And when we embrace God under 
this veil or shadow, when we thus adore him, call upon him, 
and offer to him our sacrifices, we are said rightly to offer 
our sacrifices unto God ! 

It was thus doubtless that our first parents worshipped 
God. In the morning when the sun rose they adored the 
Creator in the creature ; or to speak more plainly they were 
by the creature reminded of the Creator. Their posterity 
retained the custom, but without the knowledge ; and hence 
the custom lapsed into idolatry. The cause of this idolatry 
was not the sun ; for he is a good creature of God ; but the 
knowledge and the doctrine became by degrees extinct; for 
Satan cannot endure true doctrine. Thus when Satan had 
drawn Eve from the Word, she fell immediately into sin. 

To return then to the Anthropomorphists. I consider that 
they were condemned unjustly and without cause. For the 
prophets represent God as sitting on a throne. When foolish 
persons hear this their thoughts are immediately picturing a 
golden throne, marvellously decorated, etc., though they 
must all the while know that there can be no such material 
throne in heaven. Hence Isaiah says "that he saw God sit- 
ting on a throne; and his train filled the temple," Is. 6:1. 
Whereas God cannot absolutely or by real vision appear to 
be thus represented or seen. But such figures and repre- 
sentations are well-pleasing to the Holy Spirit; and such 
works of God are set before us by the means of which we 
may apprehend God by our understanding. Such also are 
those figures when it is said that "He made the heavens and 



the earth' ' ; that lie sent his Son ; that he speaks by his 
Son ; that he baptizes ; that lie remits sins by the Word. 
He that does not understand these things will never under- 
stand God. But I say no more here; since these things have 
been frequently and abundantly discussed by me elsewhere ; 
yet it was necessary to touch upon them on the present oc- 
casion for Moses' sake, whom the Jews here so severely at- 
tack, in the exposition of which we are proving the plurality 
of the divine persons in the deity. Now let us proceed with 
the text. 

III. V. 3. And God said, Let there be light: and there 
was light, 

Moses has already said that the rude mass of heaven and 
earth which he also calls "darkness" and "the deep," was 
made by the Word ; and that work ought to be considered the 
work of the "first day." Yet, it is now for the first time that 
Moses uses the expression '"God said, Let there be light," 
etc. A marvelous phraseology this indeed ; unknown to any 
writer of any other language under heaven, that God by 
speaking causes that to exist, which had no existence be- 
fore. Here therefore Moses sets before us the medium and 
instrument which God used in performing his works, name- 
ly the Word. 

But we must here carefully mark the distinction in the 
Hebrew language between the words amar and eabar. We 
render each by the terms to say or to speak. But, in the 
Hebrew there is this defference: amar only and properly 
signifies the word uttered. But dabar means also the thing 
or substance uttered. As when the prophets say "This is 
the Word of the Lord," they use the term dabar not amar. 
Even at this day the new Arians blind the eyes of those un- 
acquainted with the Hebrew language by saying that the 
term in question implies, and is, "a thing created;" and that 
in this way it is that Christ is called the Word Against this 
impious, and at the same time ignorant, corruption of the 
term Word, the reader is duly warned, and exhorted to re- 



nember that Moses here uses the word amar which simply 
md properly signifies the word uttered ; so that the word 
ittered is something distinct from him who utters it ; as 
here is also a distinction between the person speaking and 
he thing spoken. 

Therefore we have before proved from this text a plurality 
>f persons; so here is also an evident distinction of persons; 
:or it affirms that it is God the speaker, if I may so express 
nyself, who creates; and yet he uses no material; but cre- 
ites the heavens and the earth out of nothing by the sole 
word he utters. 

Compare here the Gospel of St. John "In the beginning 
was the Word." He exactly agrees with Moses, He says 
that there was no creature whatever before the world was 
made. Yet God possessed the Word. And what is this Word 
and what does it do? Hear Moses. The light, says he, as 
yet was not; but the darkness out of its nothing-state is 
changed into that most excellent creature, light. By what? 
By the Word. Therefore, "in the beginning" and before 
every creature is the Word ; and it is so powerful that out 
of nothing it makes all things. Hence that irrcfragably fol- 
lows, which John eloquently adds, that the Word was and is 
God! And yet, that the Word is a person different from God 
the Father ; even as the Word, and he who utters the Word, 
are things absolutely distinct from each other. But at the 
same time this distinction is of the nature that the most per- 
fect oneness, if I may so speak, of unity remains. 

These arc lofty mysteries, nor is it safe to go further into 
them than the Holy Spirit is pleased to lead us. Wherefore 
here let us stop; content with the knowledge that when the 
unformed heaven and unformed earth, each enveloped in mist 
and darkness, had stood forth created out of nothing by the 
Word, the light also shone forth out of nothing; and even out 
of darkness itself by the Word. The first work of the Creator 
Paul speaks of as a marvellous work ; "God that commanded 
the light to shine out of darkness," etc. The command of 



God, says he, made that light. This therefore is enough for 
us and sufficient to confirm our faith, that Christ is truly 
God, who existed with the Father from all eternity before 
the world was made; and that by him, who is the wisdom 
and word of the Father, the Father made all things. It is 
remarkable also that Paul in his passage makes the conver- 
sion of the wicked the work of a new creation, and a work 
wrought also by the Word. 

But here reason impiously busies itself with foolish ques- 
tions. It argues, if the Word ever existed, why did not God 
create the heavens and the earth before by that Word? And 
again, Since the heavens and the earth were first made, when 
God began to speak, it seems to follow that the Word then 
first had existence, when the creatures began to exist, etc. 
J Jut these impious cogitations are to be cast from us for 
concerning these things we can determine nothing nor think 
aright. For beyond that "beginning" of the creation is noth- 
ing but naked and divine essence; naked deity! And since 
God is incomprehensible that also is incomprehensible which 
was before the world ; because it is nothing less than naked 
God i 

We believe it right therefore to speak only of "the begin- 
ning," because we cannot advance beyond the beginning. 
But since John and Moses affirm that the Word was "in the 
beginning," and before every creature, it of necessity follows 
that the Word was ever in the Creator and in the naked es- 
sence of God. Therefore he is the true God ; yet so, that the 
Father begets and the Son is begotten. For Moses estab- 
lishes this difference when he names God, who spoke and 
the word which was spoken. And this was enough for 
Moses to do; for the clearer explanation of this mystery 
properly belongs to the New Testament and to the Son, who 
is in the bosom of the Father. In the New Testament there- 
fore we hear the literal names of the sacred persons, the 
Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. These indeed are indi- 
cated in certain psalms, and in the prophets but not so dis- 



tlnctly expressed. 

Augustine explains the word somewhat otherwise. For 
he interprets the expression "said" in this manner. "Said ;" 
that is, it was so defined from ah eternity by the word of the 
Father ; it was so appointed of God. Because the Son is the 
mind, the image and the wisdom of God. But the true and 
simple meaning is to be retained. "God said f that is, God 
by the Word made and created all things. "This meaning the 
apostle also confirms when he says, "By whom also he made 
the worlds," Heb. i :2. And again, "All things were made by 
Him and for Him," Col. I :i6. And within these limits ought 
to be confined every thought of the creation ; our duty is to 
proceed no further; if we do, we fall headlong into certain 
darkness and destruction. 

Let these facts therefore be sufficient for us in any ques- 
tion concerning the world and its creation. With respect 
to the material of the world that it was made out of nothing ; 
as the light was made out of that which was not light, so the 
whole heavens and the whole earth were made out of noth- 
ing; as the Apostle says, "He calleth those things that are 
not, as though they were," Rom. 4:17. 

With respect to the instrument or medium which God 
used, it was his omnipotent word which was with God from 
the beginning, and as Paul speaks, "before the foundation of 
the world," Eph. 1 4. Therefore when Paul says in Col. I :i6, 
"AH things were made by him," for he uses the preposition, 
after the Hebrew manner, for per; the Hebrews thus use 
their letter beth ; this and all similar passages are taken 
from this verse of Moses, who is here speaking of the Word 
uttered, by which anything is commanded or demanded. 

This Word was God, and was an omnipotent Word, spoken 
in the divine essence. No one heard this Word uttered but 
God himself ; that is, God the Father, God the Son and God 
the Holy Ghost. While it was uttered the light was gen- 
erated; not out of the material of the Word nor out of the 
material of the speaker, but out of darkness itself. The 



Father spoke within, the work was immediately wrought 
without, and the light existed. In the same manner also 
were all things afterwards created. These facts, I say, con- 
cerning the manner of the creation are amply sufficient for 

IV. But here again a well known question is perpetually 
agitated, namely, of what kind was that light by which the 
original unformed mass of heaven and earth was illumined, see-' 
ing that neither the sun, nor the stars, were then created ; and 
yet the text shows that this light was real and material. This 
fact has given occasion to some to have recourse to an allegory, 
who would explain the matter thus : "Let there be light ; that is, 
the angelic nature. And again, "God divided the light from the 
darkness ;" that is, he separated the holy angels from the wicked 
angels. But this is to trifle with allegories, utterly out of place 
and not to interpret Scripture. Moses is here historically re- 
cording facts. lie is moreover writing and penning a record 
for unlettered men; that they may have the plainest possible 
testimonies concerning the great creation. Such absurdities 
therefore are not here to be tolerated. 

A second question is here also agitated, namely, whether this 
light moved itself with a circular motion. I confess that I for 
my part know not the truth of the matter. But if any one desires 
to know what I consider the nearest to the truth my opinion is, 
that this light was movable, so that its motion from east to 
west, or from its rising to its setting formed the natural day. 
Although it is difficult to describe the kind of light it was, 
yet I am by no means inclined to think that we should depart, 
without cause, from the plain grammar of the subject ; or that 
we should use any violence by wresting from their common 
meaning the plainest terms. For Moses distinctly affirms that 
"there was light;" and he reckons this as the "first day" of 
the creation. 

My opinion is therefore that this was true and real light; 
and that it revolved with a circular motion as the light of the 
sun revolves. T believe however that this light was not so 



clear and splendent as it afterwards was, when augmented, 
ornamented and beautified by the light of the sun. Even as 
the sacred Scriptures testify that in the last day God will make 
the present light of the sun, now unclean, in comparison with 
its future brightness, far more splendid and glorious ; as 
therefore the present light is as it were a thick and imperfect 
mass of light, when compared with that light which shall be, 
so that original light was imperfect when compared with the 
light that now shines. Such are my sentiments concerning 
these two questions. Moses then proceeds to say: 

V. 5. And there was evening and there was morning one day. 

We must here first observe that the Jews begin their day 
differently from us. With them the day commences from the 
evening and the setting sun and terminates on the evening fol- 
lowing. We begin our day with the rising sun. And it is very 
remarkable that the Jews derive their term evening, which they 
call aehef, from araf which signifies "to mingle or con- 
found." In the same manner from the term aeef they form 
their expression arof, which our countryman renders by 
Cynomia, "dogfly," which may signify "a confused fly." Be- 
cause in the evening, the appearances of things are confused 
and indistinct, and when the light is removed cannot be clearly 

V. Moses has taught us concerning the first day. We shall 
see however that Moses retains this same expression "God 
said" in the creation of all the other creatures. "And God said 
let there be a firmament," etc. The very repetition of this samr 
expression ought to be most delightful to us, because as I said, 
it brings to us a mighty testimony for the confirmation of our 
faith; that the Son, in these eternal things, is very God; and thai 
in the unity of the divinity there is a plurality of Persons ; be- 
cause the speaker is one Person and the Word spoken another 

In this manner also the Psalmist speaks, "By the Word of 
Jehovah were the heavens made," etc., Ps. 33 :6. And Solomon 
implies the force of this wonderful phrase of Moses, when- he 



writes that the divine wisdom was as it were the handmaid 
of the Creation. "I was set up from everlasting, from the 
beginning, before the earth was, etc. ; when he established the 
heavens, I was tiiere ; when he set a circle upon the face of the 
deep," Prov. 8:23, 27. Here Solomon shows that he fully 
understood this doctrine of our religion, so plainly set forth by 
Moses; and that he understood it in a manner beyond the 
knowledge of the ignorant multitude, who heard these things, 
and read them, hut understood them not. For had not Solo- 
mon fully understood this mystery, he could not have spoken 
thus. But he drew all these things from this verse of Moses, 
as from a deep and holy fountain. Another proof of this his 
divine knowledge is Prov. 30:3, "What is his name, and what 
is his Son's name, if thou knowest?" 

I believe also that there were similar writings of other holy 
men, such as of Enoch, Elijah, etc., in which there existed 
many testimonies of the same kind. But as even at the present 
day, these things though plainly revealed in the New Testa- 
ment remain hidden, and are by many not only not received, 
hut fiercely opposed, so to a much greater extent did it happen 
among the Jewish people, while the holy fathers set these 
mysteries before the wise in divine things, with the greatest 
skill and wisdom. 

To us it is great consolation to know that these divine mys- 
teries were thus shadowed forth by Moses from the beginning 
of the world ; that in these divine beings there is a plurality of 
persons and yet a unity of the divine essence. And if there 
are some who do not believe, but fiercely oppose this doctrine, 
what is that to us? Abraham saw three, and adored one! 
And the Holy Spirit says, Gen. 19:24, "Then Jehovah rained 
fire from Jehovah out of heaven." Although fanatics under- 
stand not nor regard these words, yet we know that they are 
the words not of a drunken man, but of God. 

Many such testimonies as these exist throughout the Old 
Testament, which that excellent man, Hilary, has diligently 
collected. If these testimonies are obscure, and to the wicked 



and unbelieving seem to be unfounded, yet to the godly all 
things which are revealed and handed down to us in the Holy 
Scriptures are firmly founded and sufficiently clear. They 
know that the Person speaking is one Person and that the 
Word spoken is another Person ; not in nature but in Person ; 
and is that Word by which all tilings were made "in the be- 
ginning;" and by which they are all upheld to this day; as 
Paul says in his Epistle to the Hebrews, "Upholding all things 
by the Word of his power," Heb. r .3. 

But here we are to be admonished that the words, "Let there 
be light," are the words of God and not of Moses; that is, 
that they arc realities, facts, works! For God "callcth those 
things that be not as though they were ;" and God speaks not 
grammatical words but very and substantial things. So that 
what with US is sounding voice, is with God a substantial 
thing, a reality! Thus, the sun, the moon, the heaven, the 
earth, Peter, Paul, you, and I, are all and each, words of God ! 
Yea, we are single syllables or single letters as it were of and 
in comparison to the whole creation. 

We also speak, but we can only speak grammatically, or in 
letters. That is we give names to created things, etc. But 
divine grammar is quite another thing! When God says, 
"Shine thou sun," the sun immediately exists and shines forth. 
Thus the words of God are things, not mere words ! 

Here therefore there has been rightly made a distinction be- 
tween the word created and the word uncreated. The word 
created is a thing, or fact, or work done, by means of the word 
uncreated. For what is the whole creation but the word of 
God spoken forth or uttered? But the word uncreated is the 
divine mind or thought, the internal command of God, flowing 
from God, and the same as God, and yet it is a distinct Person. 
And thus God reveals himself unto us as the speaker, having 
with or in himself, the word increate, by which he created the 
world and all things with the utmost facility of operation, 
namely by merely speaking! So that there was no more diffi- 
culty with God in creating than with us in speaking. It was 



in such meditations as these that the pious fathers Augustin* 
and Hilary found their delight. 


I. V. 6. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the 
midst of the waters, and let it divide the loatcrs from the waters. 

Moses may here seem to have forgotten himself in that be 
treats not at all of two most important themes : the creation and 
the fall of the angels, but confines his sacred narrative to the 
creation of corporeal things. Though there is no doubt that 
angels were created, yet not one word is found in all the 
Scriptures concerning their creation, their battle, or their fall ; 
except that which Christ briefly utters, John 8 44, in reference 
to the devil, that he "abode not in the truth ;" except also that 
woful account of the Serpent, which the sacred historian here- 
after gives us in the third chapter of Genesis. It is wonderful 
therefore that Moses is wholly silent on things of such great 

Hence it is that men having nothing certain recorded upon 
the subject, naturally fell into various fictions and fabrications, 
that there were nine legions of angels, and that so vast was 
their multitude that they were nine whole days falling from 
heaven. Others have indulged imaginations concerning the 
mighty battle between these superior beings, in what manner 
the good resisted the evil angels. My belief is that these 
ideas of the particulars of this battle were taken from the fight 
which exists in the church, where godly ministers arc ever con- 
tending against evil and fanatical teachers, and that on this 
ground they have formed their ideas of the battle of the good 
angels against the evil ones who wished to usurp Deity. But 
so it ever is. Where no plain testimonies exist rash men con- 
sider themselves at liberty to imagine and invent what they 

In the same manner men form their various opinions con- 
cerning the danger and the fear of angels and of the evils 
they work, all which opinions are founded on Is. 14:12, 13, 

GENESIS 1. 63 

where Lucifer is represented as having said in his heart, "1 
will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars 
of God." But the prophet is there predicting the greatness 
of the pride of the King Df the Babylonians. Bernard again 
has the idea that Lucifer foresaw in God that his purpose was 
to exalt man above the nature of angels, that his proud 
spirit envied man this felicity and that he fell in consequence. 
But let the Christian man take these things at their own value 
and at no more. For myself I would by no means urge any one 
to give his assent to any such opinions. The things that are 
certain are, that the angels fell, and that the devil from hav- 
ing been an angel of light was made an angel of darkness. 
Perhaps there was also a conflict between the good angels and 
the evil. 

As Moses however was writing to a new and uninformed 
people his object was to write those things only which were 
useful and necessary to be known. The nature of angels there- 
fore and other kindred subjects which were not necessary to 
be known he passed by. Wherefore nothing on the whole of 
this obscure subject, beyond what Moses has plainly recorded, 
ought to be expected from me. The more especially so, as 
the New Testament itself treats very sparingly of this deep 
theme. It says nothing more concerning the angels than that 
they were condemned and that they are still held as it were 
in prison and in chains until the judgment of the last day. Let 
it suffice us therefore to know that there are good angels and 
bad angels, but that God created them all alike good. Whence 
it follows of necessity, that the evil angels fell and stood not 
in the truth. But how they fell and stood not in the truth is 
unknown. It is nevertheless probable that they fell by pride ; 
because they despised the Word or Son of God, and wished to 
exalt themselves before him. This is all I have to say. Now 
let us return to Moses. 

II. We have heard that the work of the First Day was the 
rude unformed "heavens and earth," both of which God illu- 
mined with a certain impure and imperfect light. We now 



come to the work of the second day, where we shall see in what 
manner God produced out of this original rough undigested 
mist or nebulosity, which he called "heavens," that glorious 
and beauteous "heaven" which now is, and as it now is ; if you 
except the stars and the greater luminaries. The Hebrews 
very appropriately derive the term schamaim the name of 
the heavens from the word maim, which signifies "waters." 
For the letter schin is often used in composition for a rela- 
tive, so that schamaim signifies "watery," or "that which has 
a watery nature." This indeed appears so from the color of 
the "heavens." And experience teaches that the air is humid 
by nature. Philosophers also say that if there were no sun 
the air would be a perpetual humidity. But they assert that 
the air is both humid and warm, but that it is humid from its 
own nature, because the heaven was made out of waters, and 
that therefore it is, that it rains and contains a fructifying 
moisture ; but because the light and heat of the sun are added 
to it, the humid nature of the air is so tempered that it is also 

This thick and rude mass of mist or nebulosity, created out 
of nothing on the first day, God grasps by his Word and 
commands it to extend itself into the form and with the motion 
of a sphere. For in the Hebrew the word hakia signifies "a 
something extended;" from the verb raka, which means "to 
unfold or expand." And the heaven was formed by an exten- 
sion of that original rude body of mist, just as the bladder of 
a hog is extended into a circular form when it is inflated. 1 use 
thus a rustic similitude that the sacred matter may be the more 
plainly understood. 

When therefore Job 37:18 says "that the heavens are 
strengthened with iron," "that the sky is strong as a molten 
mirror," his mind is not dealing with the material but with the 
Word of God, which can make a thing the softest by nature the 
hardest and the firmest. For what is softer than water ? What 
is thinner or more subtile than air? Yet these things, which 
were the most subtile and the softest by nature, from being 



created by the Word preserve their form and motion with the 
greatest perfection and the greatest firmness. Whereas, had 
the heaven been formed of adamant or of any material in- 
finitely harder still, it would by its rapid, long and continuous 
motion, have soon been broken in pieces or melted. In the 
same manner the sun, by his rapid motion, would melt in one 
day even if formed of the hardest material, were it not for the 
Word of God by which it was created. For motion is of itself 
very creative of heat. Hence Aristotle asserts that the lead 
of the arrow is sometimes melted by the velocity of its motion. 

These facts of nature therefore are miracles of God, in which 
Lhe omnipotence of his Word is clearly discerned, exhibiting 
the wonder that the heaven, though softer and more subtile than 
water, and performing continuously the most rapid revolution, 
and that too with so vast a variety of bodies and their motions, 
should have existed and revolved so many thousands of years 
uninjured and unweakened ! It was this that caused Job to say, 
"that the heavens were molten, as it were, of brass/' Job. 37 : 
18; that they are by nature the softest of substances. I low 
great the subtility of the air is in which wc live, we ourselves 
know perfectly well ; for it is not only not tangible, but not dis- 
cernible. And the heaven, or ether, is still more subtile and 
thinner than the air or atmosphere. For its blue or sea-color 
or water-color appearance is not a proof of its density, but 
rather of its distance and its thinness; to which its rarified 
state, if you compare the thicker substances of the clouds, the 
latter will appear in comparison, like the smoke of wet wood 
when first ignited. It is to this extreme subtility, yet unaltered 
durability, that Job alludes as above mentioned. So philoso- 
phers have among them this celebrated maxim, "That which 
is humid is limited by no boundary of its own." 

Wherefore the heaven which cannot consist by any boundary 
of its own, being aqueous, consists by the Word of God ; as it 
is taught in the present divine record of Moses, "Let there be a 
firmament!" Gen. 1:6. Hence philosophers who were more 
diligent in their inquiries formed their concluson, and that by 



no means a light one for nature to form, that all things were 
ruled and governed, not by chance nor at random, but by a 
divine providence ; seeing that the motions of the heavens and 
of the superior bodies are so certain and so peculiar to them- 
selves. Who indeed could possibly say that all these things 
proceeded by chance, or by their own mere undirected nature, 
when even the workmanship of men proceeds not from chance, 
but from skillful art and certain design, such as pillars formed 
round, triangular, hexagonal, etc. ? 

AH these things therefore are the works of the divine 
Majesty! By him the sun holds his course so accurately and 
with so fixed a law, that he deviates not a hair's breadth from 
his all-certain path in any one part of heaven. This course he 
holds in the most subtile ether, supported by no substances or 
bodies whatsoever, but is borne along as a leaf in the air. 
Though this comparison is neither strictly correct nor appro- 
priate, because the motion of a leaf is irregular and uncertain ; 
but the course of the sun is ever certain, and that too in an 
ether far more subtile than this atmosphere in which we move 
and live. 

This marvelous extension of the original rule and dense 
nebulosity or cloud or mist is here called by Moses "a firma- 
ment," in which the sun with all the planets have their motion 
round the earth, in that most subtile material. But who is it 
that gives such firmness to this most volatile and fluctuating 
substance? Most certainly it is not nature that gives it, which 
in far less important things than these can exert no such power. 
It follows therefore that it is the work of him, who "in the 
beginning" said unto the heavens and unto this volatile sub- 
stance, "Let there be a firmament," or "Be thou a firmament," 
and who establishes and preserves all these things by his omni- 
potent power, put forth through his Word. This Word makes 
the air with all its thinness and lightness to be harder and 
firmer than adamant, and to preserve its own boundary; and 
this Word could on the contrary make adamant to be softer 
than water, in order that from such works as these we might 


know what kind of a God our God is ; namely, the God omni- 
potent, who made out of the rude mass of unformed heavens 
the present all-beauteous, all-glorious heaven ; and who did all 
these things according to his will as well as according to his 

But I have said that with the Hebrews the "firmament" de- 
rives its name from a verb in their language signifying "to 
extend." It is to this signification of the Hebrew verb that 
David beautifully alludes, in his similitude of military hide- 
coverings and tents which he uses in Ps. 104:2, when he says 
of God "Who stretcheth out the heavens like a curtain." For 
as the rolled-up hide-covering of the military tent is unrolled 
and then stretched out as a canopy to the stakes which are 
fixed in the earth, so Thou, O God, says David, unrollcdst as 
it were and stretchedst out the first formed, but as yet un- 
formed, rude heaven, into the present glorious "firmament," 
where Thou sittest invisibly as on a sphere over the whole 
creation, in the midst of all things and yet out of and above all 

It is a circumstance naturally exciting our particular wonder 
that Moses evidently makes three distinct parts or divisions of 
this portion of the creation. He describes "a firmament in the 
midst of the waters," which "divides the waters from the 
waters." For myself I am inclined to think that the firmament 
here mentioned is the highest body of all ; and that the waters, 
not those "above" the firmament, but those which hang and fly 
about "under" the firmament, are the clouds, which we behold 
with our natural eyes ; so that by the waters which are "divided 
from the waters," we may understand the clouds which are 
divided from our waters which are in the earth. Moses how- 
ever speaks in the plainest possible terms, both of waters 
"above" and of waters "under" the firmament. Wherefore I 
here hold my own mind and judgment in captivity and bow to 
the Word, although I cannot comprehend it. 

But a question here arises, what those waters are and how 
those bodies of water which are "above" the firmament are 



distinguished from those which are "under" the firmament. 
The division and distinction here made by philosophers is well 
known. 1 hey make the elements to be four ; and they dis- 
tinguish and place them according to their qualities. They 
assign the lowest place to the earth; a second place to the 
water; a third to the air; and the last and highest place to the 
fire. Other philosophers add to these four elements ether as a 
fifth essence. After this division and number of the elements, 
there are numerated seven spheres or orbs of the planets, and 
an eighth sphere of the fixed stars. And on these subjects it 
is agreed among all philosophers that there are four spheres of 
generating and corruptible principles; and also eight others 
of non-gencrating and incorruptible principles. 

And Aristotle disputes concerning the nature of the heaven ; 
that it is not composed of the elements, but has its own peculiar 
nature, because if it were composed of the elements it would 
be corruptible, in that these substances would mingle together 
and mutually produce and suffer corruption. Therefore he 
will not attribute, to heaven and the heavenly bodies the pri- 
mary qualities, primus qualities, that is, the attributes of the 
elements, and says that they are simply creatures possessing 
a co-eternal light, and qualities and attributes peculiarly their 
own, and created with them. 

Now these things, although they are not certain, yet since 
they contain principles of a most beautiful theory, gathered 
from a course of reasoning approaching the truth, are useful 
for instruction, and it would be barbarous if one should deter- 
mine to neglect or despise them, since in some respects they 
harmonize with experience. For we experience it to be the 
truth that fire by its very nature travels beyond itself, as is 
seen in the phenomena of the lightning and the fiery meteors 
in the air. By these principles, learned from experience, they 
are led to give fire the highest place, next to it the air, after it 
water comes third, and last the earth in the lowest place, since 
in weight it surpasses all the others. 

These things have their place and use as rudiments or pri- 

GF.NESfS i. fir» 

inary principles, which if any one contend that they are not 
universally true, yet they arc true in general and serve to the 
end that we may learn and hand down to others the true the- 
ories. For though fire can be struck from flint, yet it cannot 
therefore be denied that in the highest regions there is fire. 
Therefore theology gives these theorists this rule, which phil- 
osophy does not know sufficiently, that although God ordained 
and created all these things by his Word, yet he is not therefore 
bound to these rules so that he can not change them according 
to his good pleasure. For we see that neither grammar nor 
the other sciences are so perfectly set forth in rules that there 
are no exceptions ; thus the laws of public and secular affairs 
step in and temper all things with reason. How much more 
can this be done in divine things, so that, although we indeed 
experience that the four elements are ordained and disposed 
by God, yet they can, contrary to this order, also have and 
maintain fire in the middle of the ocean, just as we saw that 
it was hidden in flint. 

Likewise the mathematicians have concluded that there 
were a definite number of spheres, not that it is necessary to be 
so, but because one can not teach anything definitely about 
such things unless one distinguishes the spheres thus, on ac- 
count of the variety of their motions, about which one can 
teach nothing without such imagination, if I may so name it. 
For teachers and professors of these sciences or theories say : 
We give examples, not because they arc in every detail cor- 
rect, but in order that no one may teach differently concerning 
those subjects. Therefore it would be the height of folly to 
despise and ridicule such things as some do, because it is not 
so sure that it could not be different, for the}' serve to the cud 
that good arts and sciences may be taught, and that is 

The philosophers in general teach such things, to which the 
more modern theologians agree and add to these eight spheres 
two more,— the crystalline, glacial or aqueous heaven, and then 
the empyreal or fiery heaven. The Greeks however have dis- 



cussed these themes much more elegantly and prudently than 
our scholars. For Ambrose and Augustine have had very 
childish thoughts. Therefore I praise Jerome because he sim- 
ply passed over them in silence. 

There are some who hold that the crystalline heaven is 
watery, because they think it is the waters of which Moses 
here speaks, and there the firmament or eighth sphere is added 
SO that they be not consumed by their rapid and constant mo- 
tion. Cut these are puerile thoughts, and I will rather confess 
that I do not. understand Moses in this passage than that I 
should approve such iilitcrate thoughts. 

The seventh heaven they call empyreal; not because it is 
fiery or burning, but from the light which is lucid and splendid. 
Tins heaven in the home of God and of the blessed, because it 
was filled immediately after creation with angels, and Lucifer, 
as they affirm, fell from this heaven. These are about all the 
ideas that theologians have added to the opinions of phil- 

However, our scientists, who have studied astronomy, teach 
that there are still more spheres; namely, twelve, and three 
motions in the eight spheres; as, the motum raptum, ■molum 
propriuui, malum trcpidalioiiis, a rending motion, a character- 
istic motion, and a trembling motion. For of such things 
indeed one cannot speak, unless he give each motion its own 

Averrois had other thoughts, more absurd and far more in 
agreeable to reason. For he advocated that each sphere was 
an intellect, or an intelligent nature. The occasion or cause of 
these foolish thoughts was that he saw the infallibly perfect 
and most regular motion of the heavenly bodies. Therefore 
lie thought these spheres were intelligent substances, each set- 
ting itself in motion in a sure and continuous manner. But 
from this follows the greatest and worst ignorance cf God ; 
wherefore we repudiate the thoughts of Averrois. But the 
others, which wc have mentioned, we approve in so far as they 
arc useful to be taught. For indeed this knowledge of the 


motion of the heavenly bodies is most worthy of all praise, 
however little that knowledge may be. 

Moses however proceeds with his narrative of the creation 
in all simplicity and plainness, as they say ; making here three 
divisions : waters "above" the firmament, waters "under" the 
firmament, and "the firmament" in the middle. In the term 
heaven, Moses comprehends all that body which philosophers 
represent by their eight spheres, by fire and by air. For the 
sacred historian makes no mention of the flowing of the waters 
until the third day. And it is manifest that the air in which we 
live is called in the holy Scriptures the heaven ; because the 
Scriptures speak of the "fowls of heaven," Job. 28:21 ; Ps. 8:8. 
It also speaks of the heavens being shut when it does not rain, 
1 Kings 8 :3s. And again it speaks of the heavens giving their 
dew, Zech. 8:12; all these things take place in the air, not in 
the spheres of the moon or of the other planets. This distinc- 
tion of the spheres therefore is not Mosaic nor scriptural but is 
an invention of men as an aid to instruction on these astronom- 
ical subjects ; and which ought not to he despised as such an 

And although they say that the elements are corruptible, yet 
I doubt it, for I see indeed that they remain. And although a 
part at times is changed, yet it follows that the whole will be 
changed ; but these changes of the elements are only in part. 
Thus the air remains unchanged in which the birds live and 
fly ; also the earth upon which the trees and other things grow, 
though certain parts of the same arc changed. 

Now Aristotle makes the cause of all these things the first 
mover, primum molorem. Averrois however says the cause 
of these motions are "formae assistcntes a foris;" that is, intel- 
ligent natures which move from without. Following Moses 
we say that all these things are brought forth and governed 
simply by the Word of God. He spake and it was done. He 
never commanded that the angels should govern these bodies ; 
just as we ourselves are not governed by the angels, although 
we are guarded and kept by the angels. 



Thus also that the motion of the planets retrogrades is the 
work of God created by his Word, which work belongs to God 
himself, which is greater and higher than can be attributed 
to angels, but God, who thus distinguished these things, gov- 
erns and preserves them. And it is the same God who com- 
manded the sun to start in its course but the firmament to 
stand still, said also to the planets and the stars, thou shaft 
move so and so. The Word does even this ; namely, it makes 
the most uncertain motion the most certain, even though these 
heavenly material bodies move in the fluctuating atmosphere, 
and not in any place or along any material Hue. For as a fish 
in the middle of the sea, a bird in the open heavens, so the 
stars move in their appointed course, but in a motion most se- 
cure and very wonderful indeed. Thus also this is clearly the 
cause why the Elbe river here at Wittenberg and in this dis- 
trict has its fixed and continuous course and dare not become 
weary. All such works are the works of the Word, which 
Moses here honors and praises : "He said," etc. 

But we Christians ought to meditate and think- on these 
things and their causes differently from philosophers. Although 
there arc some things which are beyond our comprehension, 
as for instance these waters that are "above" the firmament, 
all such things are rather to be believed with a confession of 
our ignorance than profanely denied, or arrogantly interpreted 
according to our shallow comprehension. It behooves us ever 
to adhere to the phraseology of the holy Scriptures, and to 
stand by the very words of the Holy Spirit, whom it pleased in 
this sacred narrative by his servant Moses, so to arrange the 
different parts of the great work of creation, as to place in the 
midst "the firmament ;" formed out of the original mass of the 
unshapen heaven and earth, and stretched out and expanded by 
the Word; and then to represent some waters as being "above" 
that firmament and other waters "under" that firmament, both 
waters being also formed out of the same original rude undi- 
gested matter. And the whole of this part of the creation is 
called by the Holy Spirit the heaven; together also with its 



seven spheres and the whole region of the air; in which are 
meteors and signs of fire and in which the wandering fowls 
make their homes. 

Therefore these common principles we will not oppose nor 
deny, when they say everything by nature sinks under itself, 
and everything light rises above itself, although we also see 
that dense heavy vapors arise but by reason of the influence 
and motion of heat. We say also that all these things were 
thus created and maintained by the Word, and they can also 
by virtue of the power in the same Word be changed yet today ; 
as all nature will finally be altogether transformed. Thus also 
it is contrary to the rule given that waters should be above the 
heaven or firmament, and yet the text affirms it. 

To return therefore unto the principal matter before us; 
when any inquiry is instituted as to the nature of these waters, 
it cannot be denied that Moses here affirms that waters are 
"above" the heaven; but of what kind or nature these waters 
are, I freely confess for myself that I know not; for the Scrip- 
tures make no other mention of them than in this verse, and 
in the Song of the three children, in the Apocrypha, Dan. 3 :6i ; 
and I can attempt to declare nothing certain on these and 
similar subjects. Hence I can say nothing whatever as known 
and understood concerning the heaven where the angels are and 
where God dwells with the blessed ; nor concerning other kin- 
dred things, which shall be revealed unto us in the last day, 
when we shall have been clothed with another body. 

But I add, for the sake of those who do not understand this, 
that in the Scriptures the word heaven often signifies what we 
call the horizon. Hence the whole firmament is called the 
heaven of heavens, in which are gathered the heaven of all 
human beings ; that is, the horizon. In this respect we have a 
different heaven here in Germany than the people in France 
or Italy. But this name helps nothing at all in the explanation 
of our text, Therefore the greater number of theologians 
interpret here waters, as also indicated above, the glacial 
heaven, the cold heaven, which is located where it is that it 



may moisten and refresh the lower sphere in their great and 
swift motion, lest they be consumed by their excessive heat. 
But whether they have thus concluded correctly, I will leave 

I freely confess that I do not know what kind of waters these 
are. For the old teachers of the church did not specially wor- 
ry about this, as we see Augustine condemned all astrology. 
Although it contains much superstition, yet it should not be 
entirely despised, for it is wholly given up to the observation 
and consideration of divine themes, a zeal and diligence most 
wortby of human beings. Therefore we find that many most 
highly talented and excellent persons have exercised themselves 
in astrology and obtained pleasure from it. 

Sufficient has been said on this subject to show that on the 
second day the heaven was separated and located so that it 
stood in the middle between the waters. 

III. But here another question presents itself. To the 
works of all the other days there is added the divine sentence of 
approbation, "And God saw that it was good." How is it then 
that the same sentence is not added to the second day's work, 
when the greatest and most beautiful part of the whole creation 
was made? To this question it may be replied, that this same 
divine sentence is added at the end of the creation of all things 
on the sixth day and more fully expressed thus, "And God saw 
everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." 
And these words apply to the heaven also. 

Lyra is inclined to think with Rabbi Solomon, that as this 
divine expression, "And God saw that it was good," is uttered 
twice during the third day's work, one of the divine sentences 
refers to the second day's work; which was perfected on the 
third day, when the waters which are "under" the heaven were 
more distinctly divided from the waters which were "above" 
the heaven. But it is by far the safest way not to be too curious 
and inquiring on these subjects ; because they exceed our 
human capacity. 

Others speculate here and give reasons they understand not, 

genesis i. 


that the second number is of an evil omen, because it is the 
first number that departs from the unity of God, but God was 
displeased with this digression and approved of the unity, and 
therefore he did not add the clause "it was good" on the second 
day. Lyra is however right in calling this a misleading and 
dangerous explanation. For in this manner all the numbers 
depart from the Unity. 

Therefore it is far the safest not to be too curious and in- 
quiring in these subjects, because they are placed above our 
human capacity. For how can we understand that order 
which God himself establishes and approves. Yes, reason 
must here be put to shame, for what is order in the eyes of 
God we judge to be the confusion of order. Thus the stars 
seem to us to be arranged thoughtlessly in wild disorder in 
that the bright ones are scattered among those more obscure, 
and the lesser among the greater. Who would judge this to 
be order? And yet it is the most perfect harmony, so consti- 
tuted by the all-wise mind itself. In like manner we judge 
of other matters. It seems confusing that our Elbe and all 
rivers flow to the sea in an irregular winding course. Such 
disorder there seems to be also among trees, yes, between man 
and wife, where it appears there is no order. But all this only 
proves that God is a God of order and that his judgment as to 
order is quite different than ours. 

We therefore cease to follow more curiously the question 
why God added twice to the third day, "And God saw," etc., 
and omitted it on the second day. Nor will we conclude rash- 
ly whether the work of the second day was finished in the third 
day or not. Philosophers have handed down the rudiments of 
the arts and of the science of astronomy, and in doing so they 
divided the heaven into various spheres. Wc have a much 
simpler theory or science, in that wc at once make God the 
immediate Creator of all things by his Word, Dixit, "And God 

For how can we understand that order which God approves 
as such? Nay, our natural reason must here of necessity be 


confounded; for that which is order with God is in our judg- 
ment confusion. Hence the stars appear to us to be in a state 
of wild disorder ; the bright being mingled with the more ob- 
scure, and the lesser with the greater. Who would judge this 
to be order? And yet it is consummate harmony; and so 
constituted by the all-wise Mind. And so we judge of other 
tilings. Ottr river Elbe seems a confusion; as do ail other 
rivers also; because their streams empty themselves into the 
sea by winding courses. In the same manner trees seem to 
present a confusion. Nor do males and females in the world 
and their unions and combinations appear to be a state of 
order. All here also as to the appearance of things is disorder 
and confusion. All these things therefore unitedly prove that 
God possesses an order, and judges of it, differently from 

Cease wc therefore to penetrate into these things with too 
much curiosity, why it is that God repeats the divine sentence 
in question twice during the work of the third clay and omits 
it altogether in the work of the second day? Nor determine 
we rashly whether the work of the second day was finished on 
the third day or not. Philosophers laid down the rudiments 
of the arts and of the science of astronomy; and in so doing 
they divided the heaven into its various spheres. But we adopt 
a simpler and more true method of procedure and judgment; 
for we at once make God the immediate Creator of all things 
by his Word, "And God said." 


I. V. 9a. And God said, Let the waters under the heavens 
be gathered together unto one place. 

In the foregoing I observed that we do not understand the 
order of the works of God. Had he therefore asked us our 
opinion here we should have advised him to use such an 
order as to add the sentence now in question to the work of 
the second day. But God will ever be master of his own order 
and the ruler of the world, Wherefore we ought not to be over 



curious here. The text plainly declares that God commanded 
the waters "under the heavens to be gathered together unto 
one place." It does not say as before, V. 7, "under the firma- 
ment," where it is said, and God divided the waters which were 
"under the firmament" from the waters which were "above 
the firmament.' 

The heavens therefore, according to the phraseology and defi- 
nition of the Scriptures, are the whole of the higher region 
and its machinery, togctiier with the entire body of the air and 
all its spheres. The Hebrew name is derived from the material 
of which it is composed ; namely, from that confused body of 
water, by the extension or expansion or multiplication of which 
it was formed. For that first body of unformed water was not 
so extensive in itself, but was so expanded or spread out by 
the Word. Just as Christ, according to the record of the 
Gospel, so multiplied a few loaves by his blessing as to make 
them suffice for a great multitude of men. 

Wiiat therefore we philosophically call the air. with all its 
spheres, Moses here calls the heavens. 

But by waters he means the waters of our seas and rivers, 
which were also formed out of that original unformed mass 
of water; or out of the dregs or lees of it, as it were, after 
the heavens had been formed or expanded out of it by the 
Word. I believe however that the nature and power of our 
water are far inferior to those of the heavenly waters. For 
our waters are, as I have said, the dregs, as it were, of the 
higher waters. So that they may be said to have been gathered 
together not only as to their place or position, but as to their 
body or substance, because these latter waters are heavier than 
those of the air or heaven. For we can breathe in the air, 
but we cannot breathe in the water. 

And when Moses says that these waters were "gathered to- 
gether unto one place" collectively, he is rather to be under- 
stood as speaking in a plural or distributive sense. As if he had 
.;aid, that they were gathered unto various places ; and not that 
the whole body of the waters was gathered unto one place, as 



one ocean, but that they were distributed into various seas 
and rivers; some higher up, and some lower down, some 
greater, and some less, etc. 

V. 9b. And let the dry (laud) appear. 

These words claim particular attention, because Moses had 
just before said, that the earth was toiiu and eohu; that is un- 
formed, rude and uncultivated, mixed with waters and washed 
by the waters on every side. Here therefore Moses also means 
that this original mass of earth was sunk under the waters and 
covered by them. Otherwise, why should he represent God as 
saying "And let the dry land appear," if it had not been 
surrounded by the abyss of water and almost covered with 
these original nebulous mists or waters? For we have here 
a confirmation of that which I have repeatedly set forth ; that 
the world, at its first formation, was nothing but a rude chaotic 
mass of water and earth; and now on the third day the earth 
is brought out and made to appear. As therefore at first the 
light was brought in upon the waters; so now, the beauty of 
that lisht is made to shine upon the earth. For both these 
qualities were necessary to render the earth habitable ; that it 
should be "dry" and that it should be in the light or illuminat- 

II. Moses now calls the earth "dry" on account of the re- 
moval of the original waters from it. Thus we behold the 
waters of the ocean rage and boil as if they would swallow up 
the whole earth. For the ocean stands higher than the earth. 
Rut it cannot pass its appointed bounds, for this spot of dry 
land circumscribes the earth of the first creation; and even 
opposes an insuperable barrier to original ocean-waters. Hence 
Job, 38th chapter, and the 104th Psalm bear witness that, 
although the sea is higher than the earth and is limited by no 
boundaries of its own, yet it cannot pass its boundaries appoint- 
ed of God. For the earth, being the center of the world, would 
naturally be submerged and covered with the sea. But God 
keeps back the sea by his Word and thus makes the plane of the 
earth stand forth out of the waters, as far as is necessary for the 



habitation and life of man. 

Hence it is by the power of God that the waters are pre- 
vented from rushing in upon us. God therefore performs for 
us to this day and will do so to the end of the world, the same 
miracle which he wrought for the children of Israel in the Red 
Sea, Ex. 14:21-22. But he made a special manifestation of 
his power by working the mighty miracle on that occasion, to 
the intent that he might bind that people, who were few in num- 
ber, the more devotedly to his worship. And what else is this 
our life upon earth, but a passage through the Red Sea, where 
the high and threatening walls of water stand up on each side of 
us? For it is most certainly true that the sea is much higher 
than the earth. God therefore to this day commands the 
waters to hang suspended and holds them up by his Word 
that they may not break in upon us, as they burst in upon the 
world at the deluge. Sometimes however signs of God's power 
are still manifested, whole islands perish under the waters, 
whereby God shows that the mighty water is still in his hands, 
and that it is with Him either to hold it fast or to let it rush 
in upon the wicked and the ungrateful. 

Philosophers have their disputes also concerning the center 
of the world and the circumfluent water. Indeed it is won- 
derful that they go so far as to determine the earth to be the 
center of the whole creation. And it is from this argument, 
that they conclude that the earth cannot fall ; because it is sup- 
ported from within by the other spheres surrounding it on 
every side. Hence according to these philosophers the heaven 
and all other spheres rest upon this center, by which support 
they themselves also derive their durability. It is well becom- 
ing us to know these arguments. But these philosophers know 
not that the whole of this stability rests on the power of the 
Word of God. Although therefore the water of the mighty 
ocean is higher than the earth, yet it cannot pass its appointed 
bounds nor cover the earth. But we live and breathe as the 
Children of Israel existed in the midst of the Red Sea. 1 

V, 10. And God saw that it was good. 



Hoses here adds this divine commendation although nothing 
was wrought beside the division of the waters and the bringing 
out of waters a small particle of the earth. Now above, at 
the most beautiful part of God's creation, this short divine com- 
mendatory sentence was not added. Perhaps it was omitted 
as an intimation from God that he is more concerned about 
our habitation than about his own; and that he might by 
such intimation animate us to higher feelings of gratitude and 
praise. For we were not destined to exist in the air or in the 
heaven, but on the earth wlicre we were appointed to support 
our life b) r meat and drink. 

Therefore after God adorned the roof of man's habitation, 
namely, the heaven, and added the light, he now spreads its 
floor and makes the earth suitable for the dwelling service of 
men. This part of his work, God twice declares to be "good" 
on our account, by which he would intimate that we men form 
so great a part of his care, that he is desirous to assure us by 
such a twofold approbation of this portion of his creation-work 
wrought witli so much care that he would ever hold it under 
his peculiar protection; that he would grant it his perpetual 
presence, and would prevent our great enemy and our most 
certain death, the mighty water, from rushing in upon us. 
Beautifully therefore did God form in "the beginning" the 
foundation and roof of this house. Now let us see how he 
furnished and garnished it. 

III. V. ii. And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, 
herbs yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after its kind, 

God, as we have seen, has now constructed the first and the 
principal parts of man's house. Its roof, the heaven, is most 
beautiful, but it is not yet fully adorned. Its foundation is 
the earth. Its walls are the mighty waters on every side. God 
next makes provision for our food. He commands the earth 
to bring forth herbs and trees to bear fruit of every kind. Here 
you may again see why the earth was before called tohu and 
boiiu; because it was as yet not only dark, but altogether 



barren of fruit. 

But mark what kind of food God prepares for us ; namely, 
herbs and fruits of trees. I believe therefore that our bodies 
world have been much stronger and healthier if this surfeit- 
ing and especially the eating of flesh of all kinds since the 
flood had not been introduced. For although the earth after 
the sin of Adam was cursed, and because still more corrupt 
after the flood, yet our food of herbs would have been much 
more refining, thin and pure, had we still lived on them, than 
our gross feeding on flesh is now. It is quite evident that in 
the beginning of the world the food of man was herbs, and it 
is equally evident that the herbs were created for the very end 
that they might be food for man. 

That the earth produces grain, trees and herbs of every kind 
is the work of this day. Now indeed, all things spring forth 
from the seed of their kind. But the original creation was 
wrought without any seed, by the simple power of the Word. 
Indeed that seeds now put forth their plants is still the effect 
of the work of the original creation by the Word, and it is 
a work full of wonder and admiration. For it is a singular 
act of God's power that the grain, falling on the earth, springs 
forth in its time and brings forth fruit after its kind. And that 
like plants should be put forth from like seeds in an unceasing 
and unchanging order, is sure proof that it is not the conse- 
quence of a chance creation, but the especial operation of divine 
providence. Hence from what grows nothing but wheat ; from 
barley ncthing but barley ; from the bean nothing but beans ; 
for the same continuous and unaltered nature, order and con- 
dition of each plant are constantly preserved. 

Philosophy knows nothing of the cause of all this and at- 
tributes the whole to nature. We however well understand 
that nature was so created at the first by the power of the 
Word, that the seeds and forms of all plants might be exactly 
and perfectly preserved. Wherefore not only are the first-day 
waters of heaven multiplied, as there is need; but the first seeds 
are also multiplied, as God sees fit, and they all preserve their 



original form and nature with the utmost perfection. 

Here again a question is frequently raised as to the time 
or season of the year, in which the world was created ; whether 
the creation was wrought in the spring or autumn. And 
although the opinions of men differ on this point, yet each one 
has his own reasons and conjectures. Those who prefer mak- 
ing autumn the season of creation, consider that they prove their 
judgment to be correct from the fact that the trees when first 
created produced their fruit. For Adam and Eve ate of their 
fruit. They prove their opinion moreover to be the right one, 
as they think, by the argument that the works of God are 
perfect 1 Others will have it, that the spring was the time of 
the creation, because the spring is the most beautiful season 
of the year and is, as it were, the infancy and childhood of na- 
ture. Hence it is that the ancient poet Ovid describes the 
spring as being the originating cradle-time of the world. 

Neither party however has sufficient ground for conclud- 
ing their arguments to be exclusively right; for the sacred 
text supports both opinions, because it declares, that the earth 
"brought or budded forth," which certainly is not the time of 
autumn, but of spring. It also declares that fruits then exist- 
ed; which it is equally certain is not the time of spring. 
Wherefore, my opinion is that such was the miracle wrought 
of God at the first creation of the world that all these things 
existed at the one time ; the earth budded forth, the trees blos- 
somed, and the fruits, in their perfection, immediately and 
suddenly followed; and then the miracle ceased; and nature 
gradually fell into her regular order. Thus, all these herbs 
and trees are propagated by means of their seeds in the same 
kinds and forms as those in which they were first created. 
Hence men reason wrongly, when they argue from the natural 
to the supernatural effect. For the whole is to be attributed to 
the Creator and to his first creation-work, in which he at the 
same time perfected the infant buddings of spring and the 
mature fruits of autumn, as far as the herbs and the fruits of 
the trees were concerned. 



Moreover this state of things at the creation induced Hilary 
and others to conclude that the world stood forth suddenly at 
the Word of God in all its full perfection ; and that God did 
not employ six whole natural days in the work of creation. For 
the text compels us to confess that the trees together with their 
fruits existed on the same day Adam was created. But 
although all this was indeed wrought of God very much more 
quickly than it is now for this same work of God in our age 
generally occupies six months of time, yet the text does not 
use the verb "to fructify" only but also the verb "to germinate." 

With reference therefore to this question, concerning the 
time of the creation, it is most probable that the spring was the 
season in which the world was first created. Hence the Jews 
begin their year at this season, making the first month of 
spring the first of their year, that being the time of the year 
when the earth begins to open its bosom and all things in nature 
bud forth. 

Concerning this part of the creation another question is also 
raised as to the time when the unfruitful or barren trees and 
herbs were created. For myself I would not attempt to settle 
anything as to this point, but I will offer my opinion. I be- 
lieve that all trees were in the beginning good and fruitful ; 
and that the beasts of the field and Adam had as it were one 
and the same table ; and that they all fed on wheat, pulse and 
the other nobler fruits ; for there was then the greatest possible 
abundance of all these creatures. 

After the sin of Adam however God said for the first time 
to the earth "that it should bring forth thorns and briars." 
Wherefore there can be no doubt that we have so many trees 
and herbs which are of no use whatever for food as the divine 
punishment of that first sin of Adam. Hence it is that many 
have considered the whole original state of earth paradise, on 
account of the blessing and the abundance which attended the 
first creation. Those who held this oninion affirmed that the 
expulsion of Adam from Paradise was his being deprived of 
this happy state of the earth and placed among thorns, where 



frequently after the greatest labor scarcely any benefit is de- 
rived. On this matter however we shall speak hereafter. But 
with respect to the present question, I am quite inclined to 
think that all the trees were fruitful when first created. 

The curious reasoning of the men of our day is detestable ; 
when they inquire in their arguments, why it was that God 
adorned the earth with fruits on the third day before he had 
garnished the heaven with stars? They affirm that such a part 
of the creation-work belonged rather to the work of the sixth 
day; and that it would have been more appropriate as the 
heaven was first expanded before the earth was brought forth, 
had the heaven been adorned before the earth. For they say 
that the adorning of the earth belonged more properly to the 
sixth clay. Lyra would make here the subtle distinction that 
this was not the ornament of the earth but the form of it. How- 
ever I doubt whether any such distinction can be admitted, as 
satisfactory. My opinion is that, as I have before said, the 
order adopted by God in all these things is not to be submitted 
to the exercise of any judgment of ours. Indeed was not the 
heaven adorned with that light, which was created on the first 
clay ? That light was assuredly the most beautiful ornament of 
the whole creation. 

In this sacred matter I therefore much prefer that we con- 
sider the divine care and goodness exercised in our especial 
behalf, in that God prepared a habitation so beautiful for the 
man, whom he was about to create, before he created him, in 
order that when created he might find a habitation already pre- 
pared and furnished for him, into which thus ready and gar- 
nished God led him when created, and commanded him to en- 
joy all the fruits and provisions of his ample abode. Thus on 
the third day were prepared the food and the store-room. On 
the fourth day the sun and the moon were given for the service 
of man. On the fifth day "dominion" was committed to him 
over the fishes and the birds. On the sixth day the same "do- 
minion" was intrusted to him over all the beasts, that he might 
use all the rich blessings of these creatures freely, according 


to his necessities; and as a return God only required that man 
should acknowledge the goodness of his Creator and live in 
his fear and worship. This peculiar care of God over us and 
for us even before we were created, may be contemplated right- 
ly and with great benefit to our souls, but all conjectures, rea- 
sonings and arguments upon the great subject of the creation 
are uncertain and fruitless. 

The same care for us is manifest in his spiritual gifts. For 
long before we are converted to faith Christ, our Redeemer, 
rose and ascended above, and is now in the house of his Father 
preparing mansions for us ; that when we arrive there we may 
find heaven furnished with everything that can complete our 
joy. Adam therefore not yet created was much less able to 
think of his future good than even we are, for he as yet had 
no existence at all. Whereas we continually hear all these 
things from the Word of God, as promised to us. Let us look 
at this first creation of the world therefore as a type and 
figure of the world to come, and thereby let us learn the exceed- 
ing goodness of God, who thus benefits, blesses and enriches us, 
even before we are capable of thinking for ourselves. This 
solicitude, care, liberality and beneficence of God, both for our 
present and future life, arc matters more becoming us to con- 
template and admire than it is to enter upon speculations and 
conjectures as to the reason why God began to ornament the 
earth on the third day. Let these observations suffice concern- 
ing the work of the third day in which a house was built and 
furnished for man. Now follow the remaining days in which 
we were appointed rulers, to "have dominion over" the whole 


i. V. 14a. And Cod said, Let there be lights in the firma- 
ment of heaven to divide the day from the night. 

This is the work of the fourth day in which those all-beauti- 
ful creatures, the sun and the moon, together with all the stars, 
were created by the Word. Nor were they created as to their 



substances and their bodies only, but as to the blessing of 
God upon them and through them ; that is, as to their powers, 
effects and influence. 

You heard above that on the first day the "light" was cre- 
ated. This light continued to illumine all things instead of the 
sun, the moon and the stars until the fourth day. And on the 
fourth day those authors and rulers of the clay and the night 
were themselves created. 

Hence there has here arisen a question with reference to 
this first "light ;" whether after the sun and the moon were cre- 
ated it disappeared altogether or remained, embodied in the 
sun. And on tins point a great diversity of sentiments and 
opinions has existed. My simple belief is that the nature of all 
these works of God is the same. As on the first clay the rude 
unformed heaven and earth were created and afterward com- 
pletely formed and perfected, as the originally imperfect 
heaven was afterward stretched out and adorned with light, 
and as the earth was first called forth from the waters and 
then clothed with trees and herbs, so the first formed light of 
the first day, which was then only begun, as it were, and im- 
perfect, was afLerwards perfected and completed by the ad- 
dition of those new creatures, the sun, the moon and the stars. 
Others say that this original "light" still remains, but is ob- 
scured by the brightness of the sun. Both opinions may be 
true. For it may be that the original light still remains and 
was as it were the seed-light of the sun and the moon. 

Moses however makes a difference here, calling the sun and 
the moon the "greater lights." What philosophers say there- 
fore concerning the magnitude of these bodies has properly 
nothing to do with the text before us. What we have here to 
do is to observe that the Scriptures do not speak of these bodies 
with reference to the magnitude of the bodies themselves but 
with reference to the magnitude of their light! For if you 
would compare the sun with the stars and collect all the stars 
into one body, you would have a body perhaps greater than 
the sun, but that whole body of stars together would not form 



a light equal to the light of the sun. On the contrary if 
you could divide the sun into minute particles, the most minute 
particles would surpass in brightness the brightest star. For 
all these bodies were created with an essential difference as 
Paul affirms. "There is one glory of the sun, and another 
glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars," etc., i Cor. 
15:41. And this difference does not consist in the nature or 
magnitude of their bodies, but in the nature and essentiality 
of their creation itself ; so that in this the work of God's cre- 
ation is more wonderful. Hence marvellous beyond expression 
or thought is the fact that the rays of the sun should be dis- 
persed through such length and breadth, with such wonderful 
properties of nourishment and heat to all bodies under their 
influence; and that, too, while the sun itself revolves with 
such amazing velocity. 

Astronomers say also that the stars are lighted as it were by 
the sun so that they shine. Likewise they say that the moon 
borrows its light from the sun. And this is beautifully proved 
in an eclipse of the moon, when the earth comes between the 
sun and moon and the light of the sun is not transmitted to the 
moon. I do not deny nor reject this, but I do hold however 
that it is of divine power that this efficacy is added to the sun 
to light and illumine even the distant moon and stars with its 
own light ; and likewise that the moon and stars are so created 
that they have the capacity to receive the light that is projected 
from the sun so far away. 

Augustine sets forth two opinions about the moon in the be- 
ginning of the 12th Psalm, and in his discussions he forces an 
allegory upon the church, while he himself defines nothing. 
But I leave this ; for from astronomers as from master artists 
we most readily learn what points are possible to be disputed 
in this science. I am satisfied that in these bodies so glorious 
and useful for our life we discern the goodness and power of 
God, who created such things by his Word and conserved 
them to the present day for our use. These are matters be- 
longing to our calling or profession ; that is, they are theologi- 



cal themes, and they have the efficacy to comfort and strength- 
en our hearts. 

What is further discussed concerning the nature and attri- 
butes of these creatures, although for the most part approach- 
ing the truth and studied with profit, yet I see that the reason 
is by far too weak to understand these things perfectly. There- 
fore the greatest men of genius and learning, overwhelmed by 
the worthiness of these creatures, could not conclude other- 
wise than that they arc eternal, and, as it were, gods. 

Since, therefore, philosophers define a star to be a denser 
point within its own orbit, we come much nearer the truth when 
we define it to be light created by God through his Word. 
And it is indeed more likely that the stars are bodies round 
like the sun, little globes fixed to the firmament, so that each 
gives light by night, according to its gift and its creative func- 

V. 14b. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for 
days and years. 

When Moses adds above, "And let them divide the day from 
the night," he intimates that difference between the natural 
stul the artificial day, so universally made by astronomers. For 
lie had before said, "And there was evening and there was 
morning one day;" "were the second day/' etc., where he is 
speaking of the natural day which consists of 24 hours, during 
which the first great movable body, the sun, performs his revo- 
lution from east to west. But here, when the sacred historian 
says, "And let them divide the day from the night" he is 
speaking of the artificial day, the space of time during which 
the sun is above the horizon. 

II. These therefore are the primary offices of the sun and 
the moon: to be the rulers and directors of the night and the 
day ; whereas the stars perform not these offices nor are so ap- 
pointed of God. But the sun, when he rises, brings in the day 
without the rising or aid of the other stars. So the moon, even 
independently of the stars, is the ruler of the night and makes 
the night ; for she is created by God for that very office. As 

genesis 1. 


to these changes of the day and the night, they are or- 
dained for the refreshment of our bodies by sleep and rest. 
The sun shows his brighter light for man's work. The moon 
has her paler light as more adapted for repose than for work. 

But what is the meaning of Moses when he says, "And let 
them be for signs," etc.? Lyra explains it as signifying signs 
of rains and storms, etc. This in an interpretation which I 
would not strongly oppose ; though I have great doubts wheth- 
er these "Lights in the firmament of heaven" do, or can, pre- 
signify rains, tempests, etc., with any certainty, as the poet 
Virgil and others represent in their writings. The gospel does 
indeed make a "reddened" evening a sign of "fair weather," 
and on the contrary a "lowering" morning a sign of "foul 
weather," Math. 16:2-3. With respect therefore to the com- 
mon saying that the rising of the constellation of the Pleiades 
indicates rain and other proverbs of a similar description, I will 
not with great concern tear them to pieces, nor will I at once 
admit and confirm them, because I cannot see that they are all 
uniformly sure and certain. 

I hold the simplest meaning of the text is that he does not 
speak of such inferior signs, but greater signs, such as eclipses 
and collisions of heavenly bodies, so that a sign is a wonder, 
a prophecy or miracle, by which he reveals his wrath or the 
misfortune of the world. If any think this explanation is too 
coarse, let us remember that Moses wrote for a rude people. 

Here belong meteors and the rare phenomena which take 
place in the air, when stars are seen to fall, when halos sur- 
round the sun and moon, when the rainbow appears and simi- 
lar things happen in the sky. For Moses calls the heaven the 
whole aqueous mass in which the stars and planets move, also 
the highest sphere. We speak of spheres and circles to make 
the explanation plainer. For the Scriptures know nothing of 
these and say that the moon with the sun and stars are not 
each in its sphere, but in the firmament of heaven, below and 
above are the waters. That they are signs of future events, 
experience teaches concerning planet collisions and meteors. 



The expression "For seasons" claims particular attention. 
The term in the Hebrew is lemoedim; and moed signifies "a 
stated, fixed, certain time." Hence it is a term commonly used 
in the Scriptures to signify "a tabernacle of covenant;" be- 
cause there certain feasts were accustomed to be held in a cer- 
tain place and time according to certain rites. Therefore it is 
that Moses describes the sun and the moon as being created 
"For seasons;" not only because the seasons are ruled and 
evidently changed by the course of the sun; for we see that 
most inferior bodies are changed by the access and recess of 
the sun ; and the quality of the air according to which our own 
bodies are also changed is of one kind in the winter, of another 
in the summer, of another in the autumn and of another in the 
spring; but because we observe other differences and distinc- 
tions of times and seasons in civil life, all which are derived 
from the motions and revolutions of these heavenly bodies. 
Hence at a certain time of the year men make their contracts 
for building houses, hire their servants and their services, and 
collect taxes, debts and rents, etc. All these are services ren- 
dered us and blessings bestowed upon us by the sun and the 
moon, that we may by their laws and revolutions divide the 
times and seasons for the various labors of man and enjoy 
many other blessings which they confer. It is by them that 
we divide and number our weeks, months, quarters, etc., etc. 

The next expression, "For days," refers to the natural day, 
during which the sun performs his revolution round the earth. 
Our being enabled therefore to number days and also years, 
are blessings of the creation and are thus ordained of God. 
Wherefore philosophers define time to he "an enumeration of 
motions," which numbering could have no existence if the 
heavenly bodies did not move by a sure and fixed law. If 
they all stood fixed in a certain place without motion, number- 
ing could have neither commencement nor regulation. And 
where there is no numbering of days, months, years, etc., there 
is no time. Hence a man in a sound sleep, being destitute of 
all sense of number and of all faculty of enumeration, knows 



not how long he sleeps. 

In a like manner, though wc can in a measure recollect our 
infancy, yet we are not conscious of the fact of having sucked 
the breasts of our mothers ; and yet we then had natural life. 
The reason is that we were deficient in the sense of number and 
the power of annumcration. For this same reason beasts know 
nothing of time; just as infants have no such knowledge. The 
sense and faculty of number therefore prove man to be a 
peculiar and superior creature of God on which account we 
find Augustine declaring the faculty of annumcration to be an 
especial gift of our nature, and proving from this very gift the 
immortality of the soul ; because man alone can calculate and 
understand time. 

With reference to the future life, some here inquire whether 
the offices of these heavenly bodies are designed of God to 
cease. But the life to come will be without time. For the 
godly will enjoy an eternal day and the ungodly will have an 
endless night and eternal darkness. 

The sun therefore makes the day, not only by his light and 
brightness, but by his motion, which he makes from east to 
west until he rises again at the end of 24 hours and thus makes 
another day. Wherefore astronomers make three great bene- 
fits to proceed from the sun: his motion, his light and his 

Concerning his influence however I shall enter upon no subtle 
inquiry. It is enough for me to know that these heavenly 
bodies were created for our use; that they may be unto us 
"For signs of wrath or of grace and for seasons," that we might 
observe certain distinctions of time, etc. These things, be- 
cause they are taught us in the Holy Scriptures are sure. All 
things else, such as the doctrines and predictions of astrologers, 
are not thus certain. 

One is wont to inquire here concerning the astrological pre- 
dictions which some confirm and prove from this text. If they 
are not defended perseveringly and pertinaciously, I will not 
combat them strongly. For one ought to concede to the in- 



genius and learned brains their playground. Therefore when 
one reads of the misuse and unbelief of their superstitions, I 
would not be greatly offended if one exercise himself in these 
predictions for the sake of pleasure. 

As to that which pertains to the practice of astrology I could 
never he persuaded to count astrology among the sciences, for 
the reasons that it has no clear demonstration or visible proof. 
That they cite experiences does not influence me. For all as- 
trological experiences are merely particular. For those, skilled 
in the practice only, have observed and committed to writing 
the things that have not failed; the other experiences, however, 
in which they failed or were not followed by the results they 
predicted would certainly follow were not committed to writ- 
ing nor remembered. But just as Aristotle says that one swal- 
low alone docs not make summer, so I think one cannot form a 
true and complete science from such single and particular ob- 
servations. For just as it is said of hunters, they may hunt 
every day, but they do not find game every day. The same 
maj' be said of astrologers and their predictions, because they 
fail very often. 

But now since they indeed contain some truth, what folly 
it is at the same time that one should be so anxious about the 
future. For grant that it is possible to know the future 
through the predictions of astrologers, were it not in many re- 
spects far better, if they are evil, to be entirely ignorant of 
them than to know them, as Cicero contends? Instead it is 
much better to stand in the fear of God always and to pray 
than to be tormented and tortured by the fear of future events. 
But more, of this at another time. 

Wherefore my judgment is that astrological predictions 
cannot safely and satisfactorily be founded upon this passage 
of Scripture ; for they are, as I have said, signs observed and 
collected by reason. But the next and proper meaning, if we 
understand Moses concerning the signs, which God knows and 
shows, is to the end that men in general may be admonished 
and terrified by them. Let these observations on the fourth 



day suffice. 

Now here begins to open upon us and to present itself to 
our meditation that great subject, the immortality of the soul. 
For no creature besides man can understand the motion of the 
heaven or estimate the celestial bodies and their revolutions. 
The pig, the cow, the dog cannot measure the water they drink. 
But man can measure even the heaven and form his calcula- 
tions of all the heavenly bodies. 

Wherefore a spark of eternal life glitters forth here from the 
fact that man is naturally exercised in this knowledge of all 
nature. For this anxious inquiry indicates that men were not 
created with the design that they should live forever in this 
small weak portion of God's universe ; but that they should 
occupy the heaven, which in this life they so admire and in 
the study and contemplation of which they are continually 

If heaven were not the destination of man what aim or need 
was there for his being endowed with this wide capacity for rich 
knowledge and thought. Indeed the stature and form of the 
body of man also argues that he was designed for heavenly 
things, even though his origin was so very mean and humble. 
For God made the first man from the common earth. After 
this the human race began to be propagated from the seed of 
the male and female, in which the embryo is formed in the 
womb in all its particular members, and there it grows until 
by its birth it is ushered forth into the light of heaven. From 
this birth conies the life of sensation, the life of motion and 
the life of operation. 

When at length the body has grown and the man has a sound 
reason and soul in a sound body, then first shines forth in 
all its brightness that life of intelligence found in no other 
earthly creature. By this faculty, leaning on the aid of the 
mathematical sciences, which no one can deny were indicated 
and taught from above, man mounts in his mind from earth 
to heaven, and leaving behind him the things below concerns 
himself about and inquires into heavenly things. Hogs do not 


do this, nor cows nor any other beasts of the earth, it is the em- 
ployment of man alone. Man therefore is a being created of 
God with the design that at an appointed time he should leave 
the earth, dwell in heavenly mansions and live a life eternal. 
These great principles of man's creation form the reasons why 
he is able not only to speak and to judge, which are things 
pertaining to language and argument, but is capable also of 
acquiring any science whatever. 

From this fourth day therefore begins to be manifested the 
peculiar glory of our race. Liccause God here forms his mind 
and purpose to create such a being as should be capable of 
understanding the motions of those heavenly bodies, which are 
created on this fourth day; and a being who should delight 
himself in their knowledge, as peculiarly and exclusively adapt- 
ed to his nature. All these things therefore ought to call forth 
our thanksgiving and praise; while we reflect that we are the 
citizens of that heavenly country which we now behold, under- 
stand and wonder at, yet understand only as strangers and ex- 
iles, but which after this life we shall behold nearer and un- 
derstand perfectly. 

Hitherto therefore we have heard the divine historian speak 
of those creatures only, which are endowed with neither life nor 
sense; although some philosophers have spoken of the stars 
and the greater heavenly bodes, as if they were animate and 
rational. This I think has arisen from the motion of these 
bodies, which is rational and so certain that there is nothing 
like it in any other creatures. Hence some philosophers have 
affirmed that the heavenly creatures were composed of body 
and intellect, though their bodies were not material. Plato 
reasons thus in his "Timceus." 

All such opinions however are to be utterly exploded and our 
whole intellect is to be subjected to the Word of God and to 
what is there written. The Holy Scriptures plainly teach that 
God made all these things, that he might by them prepare for 
the man, whom he was about to create, a home and a hos- 
pitable reception : and that all these things are governed and 



preserved by the power of the same Word, by which they were 
originally created. Wherefore all things being at length pre- 
pared pertaining to the furniture of his home, the Scriptures 
next show us the manner in which man was "formed" and 
introduced into his possession to the end that we might be 
taught that the providence of God over us and for us is 
greater than all our own care and concern for ourselves can 
possibly be. These things are plainly taught us in the Scrip- 
tures. AH other things not supported by the authority of the 
Scriptures are to be repudiated and rejected. 

I have therefore thought it especially becoming and neces- 
sary to repeat here that admonition which I have frequently 
given, that we ought constantly to acquaint and familiarize 
ourselves with the phraseology of the Holy Spirit. For no one 
can successfully study any of the human arts unless he first 
correctly understands the idiom of the language in which us 
principles are described. For lawyers have their peculiar terms, 
unknown to the physician and the philosopher. In like man- 
ner, the latter have each a phraseology peculiar to them 
selves with which the professors of other arts have little or no 
acquaintance. Now one art ought not to perplex another. 
But every art ought to maintain its own course in its own way 
and to adopt its own peculiar terms. 

Accordingly we find the Holy Spirit, to use a language and a 
phraseology peculiar to his own divine self, declaring that 
God created all things by his Word or by speaking them 
into being; "He spake and it was done"; that he wrought 
all things by his Word; and that all the works of God arc 
certain words of God, certain things created by the un- 
created word. As therefore the philosopher uses his own 
terms, so the Holy Ghost uses his. Hence when the as- 
tronomer speaks of his spheres, his cycles and his epicycles, 
he does so rightly, for it is lawful for him in the profession of 
his art to use such terms as may enable him the better to 
instruct his disciples. On the other hand the Holy Ghost will 
know nothing of such terms in the sacred Scriptures. Hence 



those Scriptures call the whole of that part of the creation 
which is above us 2 "The heaven," nor ought that term to be 
disapproved by the astronomer; for the astronomer and the 
Scripture both adopt, as I have said, terms peculiar to them- 

It is in this manner that we are to understand the term 
"seasons" in the sacred text before us. For the term "season" 
with the philosopher and with the Hebrew has not the same 
signification. With the Jews the term "season" signifies, 
theologically, an appointed feast or festival ; and also the inter- 
vals of days, which concur and conjoin to form the year, where- 
fore this term is everywhere rendered by the word "feast" or 
"festival" or "festivity" ; except where it is used to signify a 
"tabernacle" or "tent." 

I deemed it best to offer these admonitions concerning lan- 
guage and phraseology before we advance further, and I hope 
they will not be found useless or out of place, as showing the 
importance that every art should confine itself to its own lan- 
guage and terms; that no one art should condemn or deride 
another, but that each should rather aid the other and render 
mutual services. And this indeed the professors of all arts do, 
in order that the unity of the whole state may be preserved; 
which, as Aristotle says, "cannot be constituted of a physician 
and a physician ; but must be formed of a physician and a hus- 


I. V. 20. And God said, Let the waters swarm with 
swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth, 
etc., etc . 

We see Moses retains invariably the same sacred phrase- 
ology, "And God said," etc. Hitherto he has been speaking of 
the superior creatures; the heaven with all its host of planets 
and stars, which God created out of water by the Word, 
and gave light unto it, just as we now see the air around us 
lucid, with a natural illumination. 

Moses now proceeds to speak of new creatures also pro- 

GENES1S 1. 97 

duced out of the waters ; namely, of birds and fishes. He con- 
nects these two creatures in his narrative on account of their 
similarity of nature. For as the fish swims in the water, so 
does the bird swim as it were in the air. Though their flesh 
differs, yet they have the same origin. For the sacred text is 
here quite plain, that the birds when created out of the waters 
immediately flew into the air where they now live. Moses here 
retains moreover his uniform term in calling the whole region 
above us, "heaven." 

And first it is worthy of admiration that, although the fishes 
and the birds were both created out of the same matter, the 
waters, yet as the bird cannot live in the water, neither can 
the fish exist, if brought into the air. Physicians rightly argue, 
when they affirm that the flesh of birds is more wholesome than 
that of fishes, even though the nature of birds is also aqueous ; 
because they live in a more rarified element ; for air is a purer 
element than water ; the latter, in which the fish are generated 
and live, being constituted of the dregs as it were of the former. 
Philosophers however do not believe this identity of the nature 
of birds and of fishes. But the faith of the sacred Scriptures 
which is far above philosophy and far more certain, assures 
us that the nature of the fish and of the bird had the same 

Here again is a further proof of the divine authority and 
majesty of this book, in that it sets before us under such 
various forms that power of God by which ho created all 
things, beyond the conception of all reason and understanding. 
Who for instance could ever have thought, that out of water 
a nature could be produced, which should by no means endure 
water? But the Word of God speaks, and in a moment out of 
water are created birds. If therefore the Word of God but 
sound, all things are immediately possible ; and out of the same 
water shall be formed either fishes or birds. Every bird there- 
fore and every fish is nothing more or less than a word of 
divine grammar or language; by which grammar all things, 
otherwise impossible, immediately become possible and easy; 


by which also things contrary and conflicting become similar 
and harmonious ; and vice versa. 

But these divine things are thus written and ought to be 
diligently observed, studied and known by us, that we might 
learn to admire and adore the power of the Divine Majesty; 
and that we might edify and strengthen our faith from all 
these marvellous creation works of God! For if one could 
raise the dead it would be nothing in comparison to this won- 
derful work ; that a bird was created in a moment out of water ! 
But the reason we do not day by day and continually wonder 
at these things, is because by our having seen them always be- 
fore us, they have lost their wonder in our eyes. If however 
one does but believe these things, he is compelled at once to 
wonder at them. And that wonder gradually confirms his 
faith. For if God can form a mass of water, call forth and 
create the heaven and its stars, each one of which equals or ex- 
ceeds the earth itself in magnitude ; if God can, from a small 
drop of water, create the sun and the moon, can he not defend 
my poor body against all enemies and against Satan himself? 
Can he not after that poor body is laid in the tomb raise it 
again to another and a new life? Wherefore we are to learn 
from this book of Genesis the power of God; that we may ac- 
custom ourselves to doubt nothing that God promises in his 
Word! For, in this glorious and marvellous creation work 
is laid a confirmation of our faith in all the promises of God ; 
that there is nothing so difficult, nothing so impossible, which 
God cannot do and perfect by his Word. For all this is here 
proved by God's creation of the heaven, earth, sea and all 
that is in them. 

But we must here touch upon that which has arrested the 
attention of the holy fathers, and especially of Augustine ; that 
Moses in this sacred narrative uses these three expressions in 
reference to God, "God said;" "God made;" and "God saw;" 
as if God designed by these three expressions, used by His 
servant Moses, to set forth the three persons of the divine 
majesty! Thus by the expression "said" is signified the 



Father. The Father begat the Word from all eternity; and 
by this same Word he made in time this world. And these 
holy fathers applied the expression, "God made" to the per- 
son of the Son ; for the Son has in himself the "express image" 
of the person of the Father ; not only of his majesty, but of his 
power by which he created all things. Hence the Son gives 
to all things their existence. And as by the Father things are 
spoken into being, so are they also by the Son or the Word 
of the Father, by whom "all things subsist." And to these two 
persons is also added a third ; the person of the Holy Spirit, 
who "sees" and approves all things which are created. 

These three expressions therefore, "said," "made," "saw," 
are spoken by Moses in a beautiful and appropriate manner as 
attributive of the three divine persons ; that we might by these 
three expressions the more distinctly understand that great 
article of faith, the Holy Trinity. For the sole reason these 
props of our faith were religiously sought by the holy fathers 
was, that the profound subject, the doctrine of the Holy 
Trinity, so incomprehensible in itself, might in some measure 
receive aid to its comprehension. Wherefore I by no means 
condemn these pious attempts, because they are perfectly in 
harmony with the analogy of faith and most useful also for 
the instruction and confirmation of faith. 

In this manner Hilary also distinguishes other attributes. 
"Eternity is in the Father ; form, in the image ; and use, in the 
gift." He says that the Holy Spirit is the gift for use, because 
he gives the use of all things; in that he governs and pre- 
serves all things that they perish not. The same fathers hold 
and affirm also, "The Father is the mind ; the Son the under- 
standing; the Holy Ghost the will." Not that the Father is 
without understanding or the Son without will. But these 
are attributes ; that is terms or expressions, which are not 
applicable to three divine persons collectively, but to the one 
or the other divine person, separately or differently. Not, as 
we have said, that the Father is without wisdom, etc. But 
we thus portray and present these divine things to our minds 



that we may better hold and explain the article of faith on the 
Holy Trinity. 

When therefore the sacred text says "And God saw that it 
was good," the divine expression implies God's intended preser- 
vation also of the thing which he had in each case just created. 
For the creature itself, thus newly created, could not stand 
unless the Holy Spirit should love it, and unless this compla- 
cency of God in his own work should preserve that work. For 
God did not thus create these things, designing to forsake them 
when created, but he approves them and loves them still. The 
great Creator by his divine agency still simultaneously stirs, 
moves and preserves, after his own God-like method all things 
which he hath made. I deemed it right thus briefly to touch 
upon these sacred matters; for the godly thoughts of those, 
who have preceded us in this holy study and whose course 
we are ourselves pursuing, are well worthy our knowledge. 

The expression in the above text, which Jerome renders "the 
creeping creature that hath life," is in the original Hebrew 
nephesch, and signifies a "soul" or "life" or "something 
living." Moses calls fishes by this name. With reference to 
birds, it is well known that they are amphibious; that is 
they live either on land or in the air. 

II. V. 21a. And God created the great sea-monsters 

An inquiry may naturally here be made, why Moses men- 
tions by name, "whales" only. But it is so, that the Scriptures 
in general make mention only of the greater fishes. The 
mention of "leviathan" and of "dragons" in the Book of Job, 
and in other places of the Scriptures is well known. It is cer- 
tain however that all the large sea-monsters are called by the 
name, "whales;" some of which have wings as the dolphin, 
the king of fishes. Not however because it exceeds all other 
fishes in size. For the eagle, the king of birds, does not sur- 
pass all birds, nor is the lion, the king, larger than all other 

I believe however the reason of this is that we might know 



that these huge bodies are really the glorious works of God, 
and that we might not through any terror at such awe- 
striking bulks, imagine that these stupendous animals were 
not works of God, but unreal monsters. These great facts of 
creation being thus established in our minds, it is easy to con- 
clude, that as these enormous bodies were created by God, the 
lesser fishes, such as herrings, sprats, minnows, etc., were cre- 
ated also by him. Let him who would contemplate this more 
deeply read Job, Chap. 41. He will there plainly see in what 
lofty language the Holy Spirit, by means of the poet-author of 
that book, lauds that marvellous monster "leviathan," whose 
strength and confidence is such that he contemns even the force 
of arrows. Such descriptions open our eyes and encourage 
our faith to believe the more easily and firmly that God is able 
to preserve us also, who arc so indescribably less in magnitude 
and strength. 

A question here also raised concerning mice and door- 
mice ; whence and how they originate and are generated. For 
we find by experience that not even ships, which are perpetual- 
ly swimming on the ocean, are free from mice, and no house 
can be thoroughly cleared of mice but that they will still be 
generated. The same inquiry may be instituted concerning 
flies. And also whither birds go in the time of autumn. 

If you ask Aristotle concerning mice, his argument is that 
some animals are homoigena, "generated from a like kind," and 
others, hetcrogena, "generated from a different kind," and that 
mice are "heterogena," because mice, he says, are not gen- 
crated from mice only, but from putrid matter; the putridity 
of which is consumed and gradually becomes a mouse. 

If you ask by what power this generation is effected, Aris- 
totle answers that the putrid humidity of this matter is 
cherished, generatively, by the heat of the sun ; and that by 
this process a living animal is produced ; just as we see the blue- 
bottle fly generated from horse-manure. But this reasoning 
is far from satisfying me, for the sun warms all things, but 
generates nothing, unless God speak it into being by his divine 



power. Even supposing therefore that the mouse were gen- 
erated from putrid matter, yet the mouse would be a creature 
of divine power. 

The mouse is therefore a creature of the divine Word and 
power ; and it is, as I believe of an aqueous nature. Were it not 
a creature of the divine Word and power, it would have no 
natural form nor would its species be preserved. Whereas 
it has a form the most beautiful, in its kind; legs of such ex- 
quisite symmetry, hair so smooth, as to make it evident that it 
was created for a certain order of creatures by the Word of 
God. In the mouse therefore we admire also the creature and 
the workmanship of God. And the same may as certainly be 
said of flies. 

Concerning the disappearing of birds I have no certain 
knowledge. For it is not very likely that they retire into re- 
gions farther south. Indeed the miracle concerning swallows 
is known by experience, that they lie as dead in the waters 
during the winter, and revive at the approach of summer ; which 
fact is indeed a great similitude and proof of our resurrection. 
For these are operations of the divine Majesty truly wonderful. 
Hence we see them, but we understand them not. And my 
belief is that although a single swallow may appear unseason- 
ably, now and then, I doubt however whether it ever can be 
the case, such swallow is restored from its death-like state by 
God himself. 

Unto the creation work of the fifth day therefore belong all 
crawling, creeping and flying creatures ; and all other creatures 
which move in any way in the air or the water. 

III. V. 21b and 22, And God saw that it was good. And 
Cod blessed them. 

Why did not God pronounce the Word of blessing upon the 
above inanimate bodies of his creation also? In those cases" 
he only said, that the bodies which he had created pleased 
him, but he did not bless them. But when he comes to the 
generation and propagation of living bodies, then he institutes 
a new mode of their increase and multiplication. Hence the 



sun and the stars, as we see, do not generate from them- 
selves bodies like unto themselves. But herbs and trees have 
this blessing upon them, that they grow and bring forth fruit. 
Still there is nothing in them like unto this present blessing, 
pronounced by God upon the living bodies. 

Moses therefore by this Word of the divine blessing makes a 
glorious distinction between the bodies before created, and these 
living bodies which were created on the fifth day, because here 
a new method of generation is instituted. For in this case from 
living bodies are generated separate kinds of offspring which 
also live. But this certainly is not the case with trees nor 
herbs ; for unless they be sown anew they bear no fruit, nor 
does a seed grow simply from a seed, but from a plant. But 
in the present instance a living body is generated from a living 
body. This latter operation therefore, that animal bodies 
should increase and be multiplied from bodies of their own 
kind, is entirely another and a new work of God. Because a 
pear-tree does not produce a pear-tree but a pear. But in the 
latter case, that which a bird produces is a bird. That which a 
fish generates is a fish. Marvellous indeed and numberless is 
the multiplication of each species and infinite the fecundity, 
but it is greatest in marine and aquatic animals. 

What then is the cause of this wonderful and admirable 
generation or propagation? The hen lays an egg; she cher- 
ishes it until a living body is formed in the egg, which at 
length the hen hatches. Philosophers allege the cause of all 
this to be the operation of the sun and the heat of the hen's 
body. I fully grant all this. But divines speak much nearer 
the truth, when they affirm that the whole generative process 
takes place by the effective operation of the Word, here spoken 
by God, "And God blessed them; and said, be fruitful and 
multiply." This Word of God's blessing is present in the very 
body of the hen and of all living creatures ; and the heat by 
which the hen cherishes the egg is essentially and effectively 
the heat of the Word of God ; for without this Word the heat 
of the sun or of the body would be utterly ineffectual and 




Wherefore to this admirable part of his creation work God 
adds his peculiar blessing in order that these living bodies 
now created on the fifth day might be fruitful. From these 
circumstances may be seen what this divine blessing is, namely, 
multiplication. Now when we bless we can effect nothing. 
All we can do is to pray. But this prayer is inoperative. 
We cannot effect the things for which we pray. But the bless- 
ing oE God carries with it actual fruitfulness and multiplica- 
tion. It is at once effectual. On the contrary the divine curse 
is non-multiplication and diminution. And the curse is also 
at once effectual. 

Here again, the phraseology of Moses is to be carefully ob- 
served. What Moses calls the blessing of God, philosophers 
call fecundity; that is, when certain living and sound bodies 
are produced from other living and sound bodies. Nothing 
resembles this hi trees, for a tree docs not generate the like 
unto itself; it is the seed that produces the like of the tree. 
This is a great and marvellous miracle, but like all things else 
in the wonderful works of God, it loses its wonder from our 
being always accustomed to behold it without reflection or 

Another question here arises concerning worms and various 
hurtful creeping things; reptiles as toads; and venomous flies 
and also butterflies. In all these living creatures there is a 
wonderful fecundity. And it is singular that the more hurtful 
the creatures the more prolific generally is their generation 
and the greater their multiplication. But we will leave this 
question to our subsequent comments on the third chapter of 
this book. For my belief is that at the time of creation, now 
under consideration, none of these venomous, hurtful or an- 
noying creatures as yet existed. I believe that they afterwards 
sprang from the earth, when cursed by God as the punish- 
ment of sin, that they might afflict us and compel us to flee 
unto God in prayer. But more on this subject, as I have just 
intimated, hereafter. 

genesis i. 105 

Thus have we then a sight of the living bodies created on 
the fifth day. And we have seen that the Word of God, 
spoken on this day, is still effectual ; for fishes are still gene- 
rated from mere and very water. Hence fish-ponds and lakes 
still generate fishes. Minnows are generated in fish-ponds, in 
which there were none before. For I see no likelihood of 
truth in the trifling arguments of some, who will have it that 
fishes caught by birds, drop their seed into fish-ponds and 
lakes, while they are being borne along in the air by their 
feathered captors ; and that such dropped fish-seed afterwards 
increases and furnishes the ponds. I believe therefore the 
true and sole cause of all this generation and multiplication 
of fishes, to be God's commanding Word to the water on the 
fifth day of his creation work to bring forth fishes. I believe 
that this divine Word is still effectual ; and that it still works 
all these things ! 


I. V. 24. And God said, Let the earth bring forth living 
creatures after their kind, etc. 

We have now seen created the heaven with all its hosts, the 
sun, the moon and the stars. We have seen the sea created, 
with its fishes and birds. For as the fishes swim in the water 
so do the birds swim as it were in the air. To the earth also 
we have seen added its ornaments of herbs, trees and fruits. 
And now, before man is introduced into this his dwelling place, 
as it were, beasts of the earth are added ; and beasts of labor 
and burden ; and also reptiles. After all these things man him- 
self is also created ! 

Man however is not created that he might fly with the bird 
nor that he might swim with the fish. But man has a nature 
common to all other animals in this respect, that he is designed 
to live upon the earth. For the use of ships is artificial, in the 
construction and use of which man attempts to imitate the 
fishes and the birds. For the ship performs both movements. 
It flies in the air and swims on the water. We are not however 
here speaking of things artificial, but of things natural. 



The Hebrews here make a distinction of names and appella- 
tions. They call behemaii, those animals which we denomi- 
nate "beasts of burden;" and they distinguish by the same 
appellation the lesser beasts of the wood ; such as stags, goats, 
hares and whatever animals feed on food common to us, and 
live on herbs and the fruits of trees. But they term car- 
nivorous beasts, such as wolves, lions and bears, etc., haieso 
erez ; which is generally and correctly rendered, "beasts of the 
earth." But whether this distinction is uniformly observed I 
know not. It does not appear to me that the observance of it 
is uniform. One thing however is quite certain, that Moses 
here intended to comprehend all terrestrial animals, whether 
they feed on flesh or on herbs. Of all these he affirms that the 
earth is the mother, which brought them all forth from herself 
by the Word, as the sea also brought forth all fishes from 
herself by the same Word. 

We have heard above however that God said to the water, 
"Let the water be moved," etc., in order that by this its mo- 
tion the sea might be filled with fishes and the air with birds. 
And we have seen also that afterwards the blessing of gene- 
ration was first added. But here in the creation of terrestrial 
animals, another word is used; and God says, "Let the earth 
bring forth." He does not say, "Let the earth be moved." For 
the earth is a quiescent body. Therefore in the creation work 
of the fourth day, God also says, "And let the earth bring forth 
grass," verse n. For God wills that the earth should send 
forth both animals and herbs without any motion. 

But whether these animals were formed after the similitude 
of the formation of man out of the "ground," or whether they 
burst forth 011 a sudden, the Scriptures define nothing on the 
subject; yet as Moses is here celebrating the formation of man 
as having been wrought by a peculiar design and contrivance 
of the mind of God ; my own opinion is that all the other ani- 
mals of the earth stood forth created in a moment, as the 
fishes were made on a sudden in the sea. The reason God did 
not here, Vs. 24 and 25, add his blessing is quite plain; be- 



cause it embraces all the creatures mentioned in these verses, 
when it is afterwards pronounced on man, V. 28. It was suffi- 
cient therefore for Moses to say in this place, "And God saw 
that it was good," V. 25. But let us now approach the last 
and most glorious work of God : the creation of man ! 

II. V. 26a. And God said, Let us make man in our image, 
after our likeness. 

Here again Moses adopts a new phraseology. The divine 
expression is not in this place, "Let the sea be moved," or "Let 
the earth bring forth grass" or "fruits." But the remarkable 
Word of God here is, "Let us make, or form, or fashion, or 
fabricate man." Wherefore this expression implies manifest 
deliberation and counsel ; the like of which is found not in the 
creation of any former creatures. In those cases God says 
simply without any deliberation, counsel or particular design 
of mind, "Let the sea be moved;" "Let the earth bring forth," 
etc. But here where God wills to create man, he turns himself 
as it were to deep thought and enters into profound counsel 
and deliberation. 

First of all then we have here indicated the signal differ- 
ence between man and every other creature of God and his 
high exaltation above them all. Beasts do indeed greatly re- 
semble man in many particulars. They live with him; they 
eat with him; they are brought up with him; they feed on 
many of the same things with him ; they rest with him ; they 
sleep with him, etc. If therefore you consider their food, their 
bringing up, their housing, their conservation, etc., there is a 
great similarity between man and beast. 

Moses however here sets before us the striking difference 
between man and all the animals mentioned ; when he affirms 
that man was created by the peculiar counsel and providence 
of God; whereby he signifies that man is a creature far ex- 
celling all other animals, which live a corporeal life; which 
excellence was more especially prominent while nature was 
as yet unfallen and uncorruptcd. The opinion of Epicurus 
was that man was created only to eat and to drink. This was 



not separating man from beasts; for beasts have also their 
pleasures, and they pursue them with delight. Whereas the 
sacred text before us forcibly expresses the distinction and 
separation of man from beast, when it affirms that God took 
deep thought and certain counsel in forming man; which 
counsel was taken, not only to form man, but to form him 
"in the image and after the likeness of God." This image 
of God is a far different thing from the care of the belly and 
the indulgence of the appetite; for these things beasts well 
understand and eagerly crave. 

Moses therefore in this place signifies to the spiritually 
minded that we were created unto a life far more excellent 
than, and high above, anything which this corporeal life could 
ever have been, even if nature had remained perfect and un- 
corrupted by sin. For godly teachers well affirm that if 
Adam had not fallen God would have translated him from an 
animal life to spiritual life after a certain number of saints 
had been perfected. For Adam was not designed by his crea- 
tion to live without food, drink and procreation. But all these 
corporeal things would have ceased at an appointed time ; after 
a number of saints had been completed ; and Adam, together 
with his posterity, would have been translated to a life spiritual 
and eternal. These natural works of our corporeal life, eating, 
drinking, procreation, etc., would still have existed and would 
have been a service of gratitude to God; which service we 
should have performed without any of that corrupt concupis- 
cence which cleaves to us since the sin of the fall and without 
any sin of our own or any fear of death. This would indeed 
have been a life of pleasure and of sweetness. Of such a life 
it is lawful for us to think ; but such a life is not now possible 
for us to live. This however we have still left to us : We can 
believe and with all assurance look for a spiritual life after 
this present life ; an end of this life in paradise ; thought for us 
and destined for us by God through the merits of Christ. 

Wherefore the portion of the sacred text before us claims 
onr especial meditation in which the Holy Spirit so magnifi- 



cently extols the human nature and so distinctly separates it 
from all the other creatures of God. For the mere corporeal or 
animal life of man was designed to resemble in a great meas- 
ure the life of the beasts of the earth. Because as beasts re- 
quire food, drink and sleep for the refreshment and restora- 
tion of their bodies, so Adam was designed also to use these 
even in his state of innocence. But that which Moses more- 
over affirms, that man was so created unto this animal life that 
he was also "made" in the "image" and "after the likeness" of 
God, this is a manifest indication of a life different from and 
far above a mere animal life. 

Adam was endowed therefore with a twofold life: an animal 
and an immortal life. The latter however was not as yet 
plainly revealed, but held in hope. Had he not fallen by sin 
therefore, he would have eaten and drunk, worked and gene- 
rated in all innocence, sinlessness and happiness. I have 
thought proper to make these admonitory observations upon 
that difference which God made by his deep counsel between 
us men and all other animals among which he permits us to 
live. I shall return to this subject hereafter and shall dilate 
upon it to a greater extent. 

Secondly, I would remark upon this divine Word "Let us 
make," that it pertains to the mystery and confirmation of 
our faith; by which we believe that there is one God from 
all eternity and three distinct Persons in one divinity or 
divine essence, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. The 
Jews indeed attempt in various ways to elude this passage; 
but they can bring nothing solidly or effectually against it. 
For this passage plagues them to death, to use the expression 
of Occa. That author so describes all trying and tormenting 
questions, which he finds he cannot solve. 

The Jews assert that God uses the same expression else- 
where, when he includes the angels with himself; and also 
where he includes with himself the earth and other creatures. 
But I would here ask in the first place, why God did not use 
this same expression before in the creation of the previous 



creatures? I would demand secondly what the creation of 
man had to do with angels or angels with it? And I would 
thirdly call attention to the fact, that God makes here no 
mention of angels whatever but simply says, "Let us." Where- 
fore God speaks here of makers or creators. This expression 
therefore could not design or imply angels. In the fourth 
place, it is quite certain that it was not, could not, and cannot, 
be said that we were created "in the image" of angels. And 
fifthly and lastly, we have the divine Word in both forms of 
expression in the plural and also in the singular number, "Let 
us make" and "God made." Moses therefore here most clearly 
and most forcibly indicates to us, that there is internally 
in the very divinity itself and in the very creative essence, an 
inseparable and eternal plurality. Suffer we not the gates of 
hell themselves to wrest this truth from the grasp of our faith ! 

And as to what the Jews say about God's joining the earth 
with himself when he speaks by the pronoun we or us, that 
is frivolous and absurd. For surely the earth is not our maker 
or creator. Why did not the adorable God rather join the sun 
with himself, when he spoke. For Aristotle affirms that man 
and the sun generate man. But neither would this invention 
succeed; because we are not made in the image of the earth 
but we are made "in the image" and "after the likeness" of 
those glorious makers and creators who here speak and say, 
"Let us make," etc. These makers are three distinct persons 
in one divine essence. It is in the image of these three divine 
and glorious Persons that we are created, as we shall hereafter 
further hear. 

And again, it is extremely absurd for the Jews to assert 
with reference to this passage that God adopts, in the words 
he here uses, the custom of princes; who, for the sake of 
reverence and dignity, use the plural number when they speak. 
But the Holy Spirit does not imitate this distancing pomp of 
terms, if I may so term it ; nor do the Scriptures know any- 
thing of such a manner of speech. 

Wherefore most assuredly the Holy Trinity is here intended 



of God; that in the one divine essence there are three divine 
Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; so that the 
Deity is not separated here, even in this case of action or 
agency. For all three Persons here concur and speak unitedly 
when they say, "Let us make." For neither does the Father 
make any other man than the Son makes; nor does the Son 
make any other man than the Holy Ghost makes. But the 
Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, the one same God, arc 
the one same author of th<» one same work and are the one 
same creator. 

Wherefore according to this scriptural argument and this 
holy statement of the truth, the Deity or Godhead cannot be 
separated objectively, as the object of divine worship, nor 
actively as the creative agent. For the Father is not known, 
but in the Son through the Holy Ghost. Hence as actively, so 
objectively, there is but one adorable God; who nevertheless 
is in and within himself, substantially or essentially Father, 
Son and Holy Spirit; three distinct persons in one Godhead 
or Deity. 

These divine testimonies of this book of Genesis ought to 
be dear and delightful to us. For although both Jews and 
Turks deride us, because we believe that there is one God, 
but three Persons in the Godhead, yet unless they are prepared 
impudently to deny the authority of the Scriptures, they must 
be compelled by the present text as well as by the passages 
above cited to fall in with our doctrine. They may indeed 
attempt to elude and avoid these testimonies, nevertheless the 
sting of this passage still sticks fast in their hearts ; they can- 
not get rid of the divine expression "Let us make." They 
can assign no other reason for it than we have here given. Nor 
can they otherwise explain why Moses uses the plural noun 
elohim. The reflections and natural convictions arising from 
these divine expressions they cannot shut out from their hearts 
and consciences, notwithstanding all the various means which 
they adopt in order to do so. And if they deem it the height of 
their wisdom to elude and get rid of these testimonies, do they 



think that we are destitute of ability, and cannot find wisdom 
enough to defend them? But the authority of the Scriptures 
on our side is far mightier than all wisdom on theirs ; especially 
since the New Testament reveals the whole divine matter more 
clearly still. For there the Son which is in the bosom of the 
Father teaches us all these things with a clearness far sur- 
passing all other testimony ; whom not to believe is the highest 
blasphemy and eternal death. Wherefore, bid we farewell to 
all these blind corrupters of divine doctrines until we meet 
them at the day of j udgment ! 

But you will say perhaps that these testimonies are too 
obscure to be appealed to as proofs of so important an article 
of faith, I reply, these divine things were spoken at this time, 
thus obscurely, according to the counsel and purpose of God ; 
and for this very reason, because they were all left to that 
Great Lord and Teacher, who was to come ; until whose advent 
the restitution of all things was reserved ; even the restitution 
of all knowledge and of all revelations. Those mysteries there- 
fore which "in the beginning" were set before us thus obscure- 
ly, Christ when he came revealed, made known and commanded 
to be preached. Nevertheless the holy fathers were in posses- 
sion of this knowledge by the Holy Spirit ; though not so clear- 
ly as we possess it now, who hear in the New Testament the 
names of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost 
plainly declared. For when Christ came it was necessary that 
all those seals should be unloosed, and all those things openly 
preached, which "in the beginning" had been purposely de- 
livered to us in obscure words in reverence to the Great Teacher 
who was to come. And had not the Holy Spirit deferred this 
clear knowledge to the time of the New Testament, Arians 
would have existed long before the birth of Christ. Where- 
fore the Holy Spirit willed that this sun of knowledge should 
be opposed to the devil in these "last times," that his eyes 
might be the more intolerably dazzled, that he might the 
more virulently envy men such a brightness of knowledge, and 
be thus the more terribly tormented. 



Thirdly. A whole sea of questions is here agitated as to what 
that "image" of God was in which Moses here says man was 
formed. Augustine has dwelt largely on the explanation of 
this passage in his book "On the Trinity." Those divines in 
general, who retain the division and definition of Aristotle, 
follow Augustine. They consider the image of God to be those 
powers of soul, memory, mind or intellect and will. They 
affirm that the image of God consists in these three qualities ; 
which image, they say, is found in all men. And their argu- 
ment is, that as in divine things the Word is begotten of 
the substance of the Father, and as the Holy Spirit is the com- 
placency or good pleasure of the Father, so in man from the 
memory proceeds the word of the heart, which is the mind 
of the man ; which word being uttered there is developed the 
will, which will the mind beholds and with which it is de- 

These divines affirm moreover that "the similitude," after 
which man was formed, stands in gratuitous gifts. For as a 
similitude is a certain pcrfectness of an image, so, they say, 
the created nature of man is perfected by grace. According to 
their views therefore the "similitude" of God in man consists 
in his memory being adorned with hope, his intellect with faith 
and his will with love. It is in this manner, they assert, that 
man is created in the image of God; that man has a mind, a 
memory and a will. Again they state the sacred matter thus : 
Man is created after the "similitude" of God; that is, his 
intellect is illuminated by faith, his memory is confirmed by 
hope and constancy, and his will is adorned with love. 

Fourthly. Divines give other divisions and definitions of the 
qualities of this "image" of God, in which man was originally 
created. They hold that memory is the image of the power of 
God, mind the image of his wisdom and will the image of his 
justice. It was after this manner that Augustine, and after 
him others, bent their minds on the discovery of certain trini- 
ties of natural qualities or endowments in man. For they 
thought that by this mode of explanation, the image of God 



in man would be the more clearly seen. These not unpleasmg 
speculations do indeed argue faithful employment and great 
acutcness of mental ability, but they by no means aid the right 
explanation of this "image" of God. 

Wherefore though I do not altogether condemn and repro- 
bate this diligence and these deep thoughts, by which divines 
desire to reduce all tilings to a kind of sacred trinity, yet I 
doubt whether such attempts arc very useful, especially seeing 
that others may push them too far. For it is on these grounds 
that some rest their disputes in favor of free-will ; which, they 
say, naturally follows from this "image of God." They argue 
thus : God is free. Since therefore man is created in the image 
of God, man also has a free memory, a free mind and a free 
will. Out of this kind of reasoning therefore many things 
fall, which are either spoken untruly at first, or are afterwards 
wrongly understood or wickedly perverted. It is from this 
source that the dangerous doctrine has arisen, according to 
which men affirm, that God so rules and governs men that he 
permits them to use their own mind and movement. By this 
sentiment and teaching many most objectionable opinions have 
been generated. From this same source has originated that 
pernicious saying, "God who made thee without thyself will 
not save thec without thyself." Such men conclude that free- 
will concurs with the grace and work of God, as a preceding 
and efficient cause of salvation. Not unlike this is the saying 
of Dionvsius, which is more pernicious still : "Although devils 
and man fell, yet all their natural faculties remained whole and 
entire ; their mind, their memory, their will," etc. If this be 
true therefore it will follow, that man by his own natural 
powers can save himself. 

These perilous opinions of some of the fathers are agitated 
in all churches and schools, and I do not really see what the 
fathers wished to effect by them. Therefore I advise that they 
be read with caution and judgment. They were often spoken 
in a mood and with a peculiar feeling, which we have not and 
cannot have, since we have not similar occasions. Inexperi- 



enced persons therefore seize them all, without any judgment, 
in their own sense, and not in the meaning the fathers had at 
the time they were uttered. But I leave this and return to 
our theme. 

I fear however that since this "image of God" has been lost 
by sin, we can never fully attain to the knowledge of what it 
was. Memory, mind and will we do most certainly possess, 
but wholly corrupted, most miserably weakened; nay, that I 
may speak with greater plainness, utterly leprous and unclean. 
If these natural endowments therefore constitute the image of 
God it will inevitably follow that Satan also was created in the 
image of God ; for he possesses all these natural qualities, and 
to an extent and strength far beyond our own. For he has 
a memory and an intellect the most powerful and a will the most 

The image of God therefore is something far different from 
all this. It is a peculiar work of God. If there be those how- 
ever who are yet disposed to contend that the above natural 
endowments and powers do constitute the image of God, they 
must of necessity confess that they are all leprous and unclean. 
Even as we still call a leprous man a man, though all the parts 
of his leprous flesh be stupefied and dead, as it were, with 
disease, except that his whole nature is vehemently excited to 

Wherefore that image of God created in Adam was a work- 
manship the most beautiful, the most excellent and the most 
noble, while as yet no leprosy of sin adhered cither to his 
reason or to his will. Then all his senses, both internal and 
external, were the most perfect and pure. His intellect was 
most clear, his memory most complete and his will the most 
sincere, accompanied with the most charming security, without 
any fear of death and without any care or anxiety whatever. 
To these internal perfections of Adam was added a power of 
body and of all his limbs, so beautiful and so excellent that he 
surpassed all other animate natural creatures. For I fully 
believe that before his sin the eyes of Adam were so clear 



and their sight so acute that his powers of vision exceeded 
those of the lynx. Adam, I believe, being stronger than they, 
handled lions and bears, whose strength is so great, as we 
handle the young of any animal. I believe also that to Adam 
the sweetness and the virtue of the fruits which he ate were 
far beyond our enjoyment of them now. 

After the fall however death crept in like leprosy over all 
the senses. So that now we cannot comprehend this image of 
God by our intellect. Adam moreover in his innocency could 
not have known his wife Eve, but with the most pure and 
confident mind towards God ; with a will the most obedient to 
God and a soul the most free from all impurity of thought. 
But now since the sin of the fall all know how great is the 
excitement of the flesh, which is not only furious in concupis- 
cence, but also in disgust after it has satisfied its desire. In 
neither case therefore is the reason or the will sound or whole. 
Both are fallen and corrupt. And the fury of the desire is 
more brutish than human. Is not this our leprosy then griev- 
ous and destructive? But of all this Adam knew nothing be- 
fore the sin of his fall. His only peculiarity then was that he 
had greater powers and more acute and exquisite senses than 
any other living creature. But now how far does the wild 
boar exceed man in the sense of hearing, the eagle in sight, 
and the lion in strength? No one therefore can now conceive, 
even in thought, how far the excellency of man when first 
created surpasses what he is now. 

Wherefore I for my part understand the image of God to 
be this: that Adam possessed it in its moral substance or 
nature; that he not only knew God and believed him to be 
good, but that he lived also a life truly divine; that is, free 
from' the fear of death and of all dangers and happy in the 
favor of God. This is apparent in Eve, who we find talks 
with the serpent, devoid of all fear ; just as we do with a lamb 
or a dog. Therefore God sets before Adam and Eve this, as 
a punishment, if they should transgress his command : "In the 
day that thou eatest of this tree thou shalt surely die the death." 



As if he had said, "Adam and Eve, ye now live in all security. 
Ye neither see nor fear death. This is my image in which ye 
now live. Ye live as God lives. But if ye sin ye shall lose 
this image; ye shall die." 

Hence we see and feel the mighty perils in which we now 
live; how many forms and threatenings of death this miser- 
able nature of ours is doomed to experience and endure, in 
addition to that unclean concupiscence and those other rag- 
ings of sin and those inordinate emotions and affections, which 
are engendered in the minds of all men. We are never confi- 
dent and happy in God, fear and dread in the highest are 
perpetually trying us. These and like evils are the image of the 
devil, who has impressed that image upon us. But Adam lived 
in the highest pleasure and in the most peaceful security. He 
teared not fire nor water, nor dreaded any of those other evils 
with which this life is filled and which we dread too much 

Let those who are disposed to do so therefore extenuate 
original sin. It plainly appears, and with awful certainty, both 
in sins and in the punishment of them that original sin is great 
and terrible indeed. Look only at lust. Is it not most mighty, 
both in concupiscence and in disgust? And what shall we 
further say of hatred toward God and blasphemies of all kinds? 
These are sad evidences of the fall, which do indeed prove 
that the image of God in us is lost. 

Wherefore when we now attempt to speak of that image we 
speak of a thing unknown, an image which we not only have 
never experienced, but the contrary to which we have experi- 
enced all our lives and experience still. Of this image there- 
fore all we now possess are the mere terms, "the image of God!" 
These naked words are all we now hear and all we know. But 
there was in Adam an illumined reason, a true knowledge of 
God, and a will the most upright to love both God and his 
neighbor. Hence Adam embraced his Eve, and immediately 
knew his own flesh. To all these endowments were added oth- 
ers of less excellency, but surpassingly excellent if com- 



pared with our present weakness. Adam had a perfect knowl- 
edge of all nature, of animals, of herbs, of treesj of fruits and 
of all other creatures. 

When all these endowments are put together they do not 
compose a man in whom you can at once behold the image 
of God shining forth, and more especially so when to all 
these endowments you add "dominion" over the whole cre- 
ation. For as Adam and Eve acknowledged God to be Lord, 
so afterwards they themselves held dominion over all creatures 
in the air, on the earth and in the sea. Who can express 
in words the excellency and majesty of this "dominion?" For 
my belief is that Adam could by one word command the lion 
as we command a favorite dog. He possessed a freedom 
of will and pleasure to cultivate the earth, that it might bring 
forth whatever he wished. For the following chapters of 
this book prove that there were at the time of which we 
are now speaking neither thorns nor thistles, Chap. 3:18. 
Neither do I believe that wild beasts were so savage and fierce 
as they are now. 

But all these thorns and thistles, and this ferocity of beasts, 
are the consequences of original sin, by which all the rest of the 
creation contracted a corruption and a loss of its original excel- 
lency. Hence it is my belief also that before the sin of Adam, 
the sun was more bright, the water more pure, the trees more 
fruitful and the earth more productive than since he fell. But 
through that dreadful sin and that horrible fall, not only are 
the soul and the body deformed by the leprosy of sin, but all 
things we use in this life are corrupted; as we shall more plain- 
ly show hereafter. 

Now the very intent of the gospel is to restore this image 
of God. Man's intellect and will have indeed remained, but 
wholly corrupted. The divine object of the gospel is that we 
might be restored to that original and indeed better and higher 
image; an image, in which we are born again unto eternal 
life, or rather unto the hope of eternal life by faith, in order 
that we might live in God and with God and might be "one" 



with him, as Christ so beautifully and largely sets it forth in 
the seventeenth chapter of St. John. 

Nor are we born again unto life only, but unto righteousness 
also, because faith lays hold of the merit of Christ and sets 
us free through the death of Christ. Hence arises another 
righteousness in us ; namely, that "newness of life," in which 
we study to obey God as taught by the Word and helped by 
the Holy Spirit. This righteousness however begins only in 
this life and can never be perfected in the flesh. Nevertheless 
this newness of righteousness pleases God, not as being perfect 
in itself nor as being any price for our sins, but because it 
proceedeth from the heart and rests on a confidence in the 
mercy of God through Christ. And further, through the 
Gospel comes unto us this other blessing also conferred upon 
us through the Holy Spirit, who resists in us unbelief, envy 
and other sins and corruptions, to the intent that we may 
solemnly desire to adorn the name of the Lord and his holy 


In this manner does the image of God begin to be restored in 
us through the Gospel by this new creation in this life. But 
in this life it is not perfected. When however it is perfected in 
the kingdom of the Father, then will our will be truly free and 
good, our mind truly illuminated and our memory constant and 
perfect. Then will it come to pass also that all creatures shall 
be more subject unto us than ever they were unto Adam in 


Until all this shall be fulfilled in us, we shall never be able 
fully to understand what that image of God was, which was 
lost by Adam in paradise. This however which we now utter 
concerning it, faith and the Word teach us, which discover unto 
us at a distance as it were the glory of this image of God. But 
as the heaven and the earth "in the beginning," were of 
rude unformed bodies, as we have shown before the created 
light was added to them; so the godly possess within them- 
selves that unformed and imperfect image of God, which God 
will perfect at the last day in those who believe his Word. 



Ill conclusion therefore that image of God, in which Adam 
was created, was excellent above all things, in which was 
included eternal life, eternal security and all good. That 
image however is so marred and obscured by sin that we can- 
not even in thought reach the comprehension of it. For 
though we utter the words "the image of God," who is there 
that can possibly understand what it is for a man to live a life 
of security without fears and without perils, and to be wise, 
righteous, good and free from all calamities or distresses either 
of soul or of body ? What was more than all this Adam was 
made capable of life eternal. For he was so created that as 
long as he lived in this corporeal life he might cultivate the 
earth, not as doing a work of trouble, nor as wearying his 
body with labor, but as enjoying an employment of the highest 
pleasure; not as "deceiving or killing time," as we say, but 
as performing a service to God and yielding an obedience to his 

This corporeal life was intended to be succeeded by a spirit- 
ual life, in which man was not designed to use corporeal food 
and aliments nor to perform any of those other things which 
he must necessarily do in this natural life. But he was 
designed to live a life spiritual and angelic. For such is the 
life eternal to come, described to us in the holy Scriptures, a 
life in which we shall neither eat nor drink, nor exercise any 
oilier corporeal functions. Hence Paul says, "The first man 
Adam became a living soul," that is, he lives an animal life 
which requires meat, drink, sleep, etc. But the apostle adds, 
"The last Adam became a live-giving spirit," I Cor. 15 145, 
That is, he shall be a spiritual man, in which state he 
shall return to the image of God ; for he shall be like unto 
God in life, righteousness, holiness, wisdom, etc. It now 
follows in the sacred text: 

V. 26b. And Let them have dominion over the fish of the 
sea, etc. 

To man, the most beautiful of God's creatures, who possesses 
the knowledge of God and is the image of God, in which image 

genesis 1. 


shines forth the similitude of the divine nature in an enlight- 
ened reason, in righteousness and in wisdom, is now assigned 
"dominion." Adam and Eve are made rulers of the earth, 
of the sea and of the air. This dominion is not only committed 
to them by the design and counsel of God, but by his ex- 
pressed command. We must in the first place consider this 
great matter in a negative and exclusive sense, that it is not 
said to any beast that it should have any dominion. And in the 
next place we must view the matter in an absolute sense, that 
all animals, nay, the earth itself with all created living things 
and all generated from them, are subjected to the dominion 
of Adam, whom God by his vocal and expressed command 
constituted king over the whole animal creation. For these 
are the words which both Adam and Eve heard when God 
said, "And let them have dominion." Here therefore a naked 
man without arms, without walls, nay, without any vesti- 
ture of his own body, but standing alone in his own naked 
flesh, finds himself lord over all birds, all wild beasts and all 
fishes, etc. 

This portion of the divine image also we have utterly lost, so 
that now we cannot even conceive in thought that fulness of 
joy and pleasure which Adam must have felt at the sight of the 
whole animal creation before him and at the sense he was 
lord of them all 1 For now all things are full of leprosy and 
full of stupidity, and, as it were, of death. For who can now 
reach even in thought a conception of that portion of the divine 
image, which Adam and Eve possessed, by which they under- 
stood all the affections, the senses, the feelings and the powers 
of all the animals of the creation. And yet, what would have 
been their dominion over all created animals without this 
knowledge? There is indeed in this life a certain knowledge 
of God in the saints, derived from the Word and the Holy 
Spirit. But that knowledge of all nature, that understanding 
of the qualities of all trees and the properties of all herbs, that 
clear discernment of the natures of all beasts, these are en- 
dowments of our nature now utterly lost and irreparable. 



If therefore we would talk about a philosopher, let us talk 
about Adam! Let ns speak of our first parents, while they 
were as yet pure and unfallcn through sin ! For Adam and Eve 
had the most perfect knowledge of God. And how indeed 
could they be ignorant of him, whose very image they possessed 
and felt in themselves ! Moreover of the stars also and of the 
whole science and system of astronomy they had the most cer- 
tain knowledge. { 

Moreover that all these endowments were enjoyed by Eve, as 
well as by Adam, is quite manifest from the speech of Eve to 
the serpent, when she answered him concerning the tree in the 
midst of paradise. From this speech it appears evident that she 
Knew the end for which she was created, and she shows also the 
author from whom she had received that knowledge, for her 
reply to the serpent was, "God hath said," Gen. 3:3. Eve 
therefore did not hear these things from Adam only, but she 
was by nature so pure from sin and so full of the knowledge of 
God that she saw and understood the Word of God for herself. 
As to us in our present state we still possess indeed some 
certain dull and as it were dead remnants of this knowledge. 
But all animals besides are altogether void of such understand- 
ing. They know not their Creator nor their origin nor their 
end ; nor whence nor why they were created. No other ani- 
mals therefore possess anything whatever of this similitude of 
God. Hence it is that the psalm contains this exhortation, 
"Be ye not as the horse or as the mule which have no under- 
standing," Ps. 32 :o. 

Although therefore this image of God be almost wholly lost, 
there is nevertheless still remaining a mighty difference between 
man and all other animals of God's creation. But originally, 
before the sin of the fall, the difference was far greater and far 
more illustrious ; while as yet Adam and Eve fully knew God 
and all his creatures, and were wholly absorbed in the goodness, 
righteousness and worship of God. Hence also there was 
between Adam and Eve themselves a singular unity of minds 
and of wills. Nor was there in the whole world an object 



sweeter to Adam or more beautiful in his eyes than his Eve! 
Nor is a wife, as the heathen say, a necessary evil. And why- 
call they a wife an evil? The reason is manifest. They know 
nothing of the cause of evil. It was Satan. He it was who 
thus marred and corrupted woman's original nature. 

The influence however which we now have over beasts in this 
life, the use which we make of them, and the things we cause 
them to do are not effected by that dominion which Adam 
possessed, but by industry and art. Thus birds and fishes, as we 
see, are taken by deception and stratagem ; and beasts are tamed 
in various degrees by art. For those animals which are the 
most domesticated as geese, fowls, etc.j were of themselves and 
by their own particular nature wild. This leprous nature of 
ours therefore still retains, through the goodness of God, some 
appearance of dominion over the other creatures. This domin- 
ion however is very trifling indeed, and far, very far, beneath 
the original dominion. For under that there was no need of 
art or stratagem, to give man influence over the beast. Every 
creature was put absolutely under a state of obedience to the 
voice of God when Adam and Eve were commanded by that 
voice to have dominion over them. 

We do retain therefore the name and the semblance and 
as it were the naked title of the original dominion, but the 
reality itself is almost wholly lost. Still it is good for us to know 
and to think upon this state of things, that we may sigh after 
that day which shall come, in which shall be restored unto 
us all things we lost by the sin of Adam in paradise. For 
we look for that life which Adam also ever held in expecta- 
tion. And well indeed may we wonder and render thanks unto 
God, as indeed we do, that we, so deformed by sin, so dull, 
so stupefied, and so dead by it, should be enabled through 
the merits and benefits of Christ to look with assurance for 
that same glory of a spiritual life, which Adam might also have 
looked for with all assurance, without the dying merits of 
Christ if he had remained unfallen in that animal life which 
possessed the image of God. 



V. 27a. And God created man in his awit image, in the 
image of God created he him. 

Observe that the term likeness is not here used by Moses, 
but "image" only. Perhaps the sacred historian wished to avoid 
amphibology, too extensive circumlocution, and therefore he 
merely repeated the term image. I see no other cause for the 
repetition, unless we receive it as intended for emphasis, and 
as designed to signify the joy and triumph of the Creator in this 
most beautiful work of his hands. The purpose of Moses was 
probably to represent God as not so much delighted with any 
of, or with all, his other creatures as with man, whom he cre- 
ated in his own likeness. For other animals are termed traces 
of God, man alone is said to be the image of God. For in all 
the other creatures God is known as by his footsteps only, but 
in man, especially in Adam, he is known truly and fully ; for 
in Adam is seen that wisdom, righteousness and knowledge of 
nil things, that he may rightly be called a microcosm or little 
world in himself; for he understands the heaven, the earth and 
the whole creation. God therefore, as Moses would here repre- 
sent, is delighted in his having made so beautiful a creature. 

Without doubt therefore, as God was so delighted with this 
his counsel and workmanship in the creation of man, so he is 
now delighted in the restoration of that his original glorious 
work, through his Son our Deliverer, Jesus Christ. It is always 
profitable to consider that God is always thinking thoughts 
of good, yea the best thoughts towards us, Jer. 29:11, and 
that he is ever delighted with these his thoughts and this his 
counsel in our restoration to a spiritual life, by the resurrection 
from the dead of those who have believed in Christ. 

V. 27b. Male and female created he them. 

Moses here mentions both sexes together. That woman 
might not appear to be excluded from all the glory of the life 
to come. For woman seems to be a creature somewhat differ- 
ent from man, in that she has dissimilar members, a varied form 
and a mind weaker than man. Although Eve was a most excel- 
lent and beautiful creature, like unto Adam in reference to the 


image of God, that is with respect to righteousness, wisdom and 
salvation, yet she was a woman. For as the sun is more glorious 
than the moon, though the moon is a most glorious body, so 
woman, though she was a most beautiful work of God, yet she 
did not equal the glory of the male creature. 

However Moses here joins the two sexes together and says 
that God created them male and female for a further reason 
that he might thereby signify that Eve also being alike created 
of God, alike with Adam became thereby a partaker of the 
divine image and similitude, and also of the dominion over all 
things. Hence woman is still a partaker of the life divine to 
come, as Peter says, "As being heirs together of the grace of 
life," 1 Pet. 3 7. In all domestic life also the wife is a partaker 
in ruling the house and enjoys, in common with her husband, 
the possession of the offspring of the property. There is never- 
theless a great difference between the sexes. The male is as 
the sun in the heaven, the female as the moon, while the other 
animals are the stars, over which the sun and the moon have in- 
fluence and rule. The principal thing to be remarked therefore 
in the text before us, that it is thus written to show that the fe- 
male sex is not excluded from all the glory of the human nature, 
although inferior to the male sex. Of marriage we shall speak 

In the second place this same text furnishes us with an argu- 
ment against Hilary and others, who wished to establish the 
doctrine that God created all things at once. For by the present 
passage of holy writ our interpretation is confirmed that the 
six days mentioned by Moses were truly six natural days, be- 
cause the divine historian here affirms that Adam and Eve were 
created on the sixth day. This text cannot be gainsaid. But 
concerning the order and manner of the creation of man, Moses 
speaks in the fallowing chapter, in which he informs us that 
Eve was created a little after Adam, and that she was not made 
from the dust of the ground, as Adam was, but from one 
of the ribs of Adam, which God took from his side while asleep. 
These therefore are temporal works; that is, works done at a 



certain time and not all wrought at one moment, as were also 
the sacred facts "that God brought every animal to Adam," and 
"that for Adam there was not found an helpmeet for him," 
Chap. 2:19-20. 

Many divines think also that it was on the sixth day that 
Adam sinned. And therefore they hold the sixth day sacred 
on a twofold account, because, as Adam sinned on the sixth 
day, so Christ also suffered for sin on the sixth day. Whether 
these things really be so, I leave it to them to settle as matters 
not fully known. Moses does affirm as a certainty that man 
was created, and his wife also on the sixth day. My thoughts 
on the matter, as I will hereafter show, are that it is much more 
likely that Adam sinned on the seventh day, that is on the 
Sabbath ; just as on the Sabbath also Satan the most bitterly 
annoys and torments the church while the Word of God is 
being preached. But neither can Adam's sin having been on 
the Sabbath be clearly shown from Moses. There are therefore, 
respecting both ways, "reasons against reasons," as Caesar 
Maximilian used to say. I leave these doubtful things therefore 
to be settled by each one according to his own judgment. 

Lyra relates a Jewish fable, to which there is a reference 
in Plato, that God originally created man in both sexes so 
that man and wife were together in one body, but were divided 
or cut apart by the divine power as the form of the back and 
spine seems to indicate. Others have added more obscene trifles. 
But the second chapter overthrows and refutes such lies. For 
should that be true how could it be written that God took from 
Adam one of his ribs and built a woman out of it? Such lies 
are found in the Talmud of the Jews and reference must be 
made to them in order that we may see the maliciousness of 
Satan, who suggests to men such absurd things. 

Like this is the fable of Aristotle who calls woman a 

man, virum occasionatum, and others call her a 

monster. But they themselves are monsters and children of 
monsters, who calumniate and ridicule such a creature of God, 
in whom God himself had delight, as in the noblest of his 

genesis 1. 


works, and who as we saw was created by a special counsel 
of God. We cite such heathenish and unbecoming things to 
show that the human mind is unable to establish anything sure 
about God or the works of God, but advances reasons against 
reasons, "ratioues contra rationes," neither does it teach any- 
thing perfectly or fundamentally on these themes. 

V. 28a. And God blessed them; and God said unto them, 
Be fruitful, and multiply, etc. 

God did not utter this command to the other animals but to 
man and woman only. Doubtless however all other animals 
are included in the blessing: "Be fruitful." 

This is the command of God to the creature added to his 
creation. But O ! good God ! What have we here also lost 
by sin ! How happy was that state of man in which the gene- 
rating of offspring was attended with the highest reverence of 
God, with the highest wisdom and with the purest knowledge 
of God ! But the flesh is now so swallowed up with the leprosy 
of lust that the body in the commerce of generation becomes 
actually brute-like, and can by no means generate in the know- 
ledge and worship of God ! 

The progress of generation does indeed remain with human 
nature, but it is lowered and weakened beyond description ; and 
it is so absorbed in lust that it differs little from the generation 
of the beast. To all this are added the perils of gestation and 
parturition, the difficulty of rearing children when born, and an 
infinity of other evils; all which tend to impress us with the 
awfulness and magnitude of original sin. The blessing of God 
on generation therefore which still remains with human nature 
is a humbled and an accursed blessing, if you compare it 
with that original blessing; and yet it is the blessing of God, 
instituted of God himself, which he still preserves. Where- 
fore let us acknowledge with gratitude and praise this blessing 
of God which still remains, though thus deformed by sin. 
Let us feel and confess that this inevitable leprosy of our flesh, 
which is all mere disobedience to the will of God is the punish- 
ment of sin, righteously inflicted of God. Let us wait however 



iii hope for the death of this leprous flesh, that we may be deliv- 
ered from all this filthiness and be restored to a perfec- 
tion and glory, even far exceeding the original creation of 
Adam t 

V. 28b. And have dominion over the fish of the sea, etc. 

What use there was of beasts-of-burden, of fishes and of 
many other animals in the primitive state of creation and of 
innocency, is impossible for us clearly to determine, sunk as we 
are in ignorance of God and of his creatures. What we now see 
is that we feed on various kinds of flesh, on pulse, etc. Unless 
therefore these same things were in the same use then, we know 
not why they should have been created, but because we neither 
have nor see any other use for all these creatures now. But 
Adam seems to have bad no use, as we have now, for those 
creatures, in addition to all that food which he had in abundance 
from all the trees around him and from their fruits, which were 
far nobler and richer than any we now possess or know. 
Nor could he need raiment or money, who had all things under 
his immediate dominion and power. Nor did he need to regard 
any avarice or expectation in his posterity. Adam and Eve 
therefore being thus amply provided with food, needed only to 
use these creatures to excite their admiration and wonder of 
God, and to create in them tbat holiness of pleasure, which we 
never can know in this state of the corruption of our nature. 
But all things are quite the contrary now. For at the present 
time, all the creatures together scarcely suffice for the nourish- 
ment and gratification of man. And the case has been just the 
same in all ages. Wherefore what this "dominion" of Adam 
"over the fish of the sea" was, we cannot now conceive by any 
stretch of our thought. 

V. 29. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb 
yielding seed, etc. 

Here behold what anxious care God took of the man whom 
he had created. He first created the earth or his dwelling-place 
in which he was to live. He then ordained other things he 
judged to be necessary for his life and subsistence. And when 



at length he had created man, for whom he had made all these 
glorious preparations, he blesses him with the gift and power 
of generation. And now he gives him food, that nothing might 
be wanting for him to live most easily and most happily. But 
my belief is that if Adam had continued in his original state 
of innocency, children from their very birth would have rushed 
forth to the enjoyment of those pleasures which the primitive 
creation furnished in infinite abundance. But it is perhaps 
vain in us to attempt to enumerate these utterly innumerable 
blessings, which are all irretrievably lost to us in our present 
state of life, and of which we cannot with all our thought form 
the least conception. 

V. 30. And every green herb, etc. 

Moses here seems to make a difference between "seeds" and 
the "green herb." Perhaps it is because the herb is the food of 
beasts, and the seeds were designed to serve as food for man. 
For my belief is that without doubt the seeds we now use 
for food were far more excellent in paradise than they are at 
present. I have no doubt also that Adam would have refused 
to taste those various kinds of flesh, than which we have no 
food which we deem more sweet and delicious, in comparison 
with the sweetness of the fruits of those trees, which grew 
naturally in paradise, from the eating of which there did not 
proceed that leprous fatness, which is the consequence of such 1 
food now, but a healthfulness and beauty of body and a whole- 
some temperature of all its humors. 

Now all varieties of flesh do not satisfy man, nor all kinds 
of pulse nor all kinds of grain. We continually endanger 
the health of our bodies by a surfeit of food. I sav nothing 
now of those worse than beast-like sins, which are daily com- 
mitted among us by an excessive use of meat and drink. AH 
this is evidently the curse of God, which has followed upon 
original sin and has continued until now. And I believe also 
that venomous and noxious beasts and reptiles first came out 
of the earth as accursed for the sin of man. 

But here a question may arise, how we are to reconcile the 



apparent discrepancy that all the trees in the field are given to 
Adam to enjoy, and yet that afterwards a signal part of the 
earth, which the Scriptures call paradise, is assigned to him to 
till? Another question may be, whether the whole original 
earth may be called paradise? etc., etc. But these things we 
will leave to our meditations upon the second chapter. 

III. V. 31. And God saw everything that he had made, 
and behold it was very good. And there was evening and 
there was morning the sixth day. 

After God had thus finished all his works, he here speaks after 
the manner of one fatigued, as if he had said, "Behold I have 
now prepared all things for man with all perfectness. I have 
prepared for him the heaven as his canopy and the earth as his 
iloor. His possessions and his wealth are the animals with all 
the productions of the earth, the sea and the air. The seeds, 
the roots and the herbs of the garden are his food. Moreover 
I have made man the lord of all these things. And he possesses 
the knowledge of me his God, and the use of all the animals 
which I have created, all of which he can use as he will with the 
greatest security, righteousness and wisdom. Nothing is want- 
ing. All things are created in the greatest abundance for the 
sustaining of animal life. Now therefore 1 will rest! I will 
enjoy a Sabbath !" 

But these things are almost wholly lost by sin, and we are 
at this day like a carcass as it were of the first created man 
Adam ; and we retain but a shadow of the dominion which he 
possessed. Shall we not say then that he has lost all things, 
who out of an immortal is become a mortal, and out of a 
righteous man, a sinner? Out of one accepted of God and 
grateful to God, cast off and condemned of God? For now 
man is a sinner and mortal. If therefore these things do not, 
under divine teaching, stir us up to the hope and expectation 
of a better clay and a better life to come, there is nothing that 
can stir us up to .such hope and expectation. Let these com- 
ments suffice for an explanation of this first chapter of the 
book of Genesis. In the following chapter Moses teaches us 
the nature of the work of this sixth day ; how man was created. 



I. V. 1. And the heavens and the earth were finished, and 
all the host of them. 

Our Latin rendering of the text before us is "and all the 
adornment of them." In the original Hebrew the expression is 
zebaam, the "host" or "army" of them. The prophets have 
retained this same form of speaking and of calling the stars and 
the planets, "the host or army of heaven," as Jer. 19:13, where 
the Jews are represented as having adored "all the host of 
heaven." And God says by the prophet Zephaniah, "I will 
cut off them that worship the host of heaven upon the house- 
if he could, in one moment empty the sea of all its fishes and the 
air of all its birds, strip the earth of all its fruits and utterly 
tops." In the same manner also Stephen testifies concerning 
the children of Israel in the wilderness that God "gave them 
up to worship the host of heaven," Acts. 7 142. 

The prophets borrowed these forms of speech from Moses, 
who in this passage calls the stars and other luminaries of 
heaven by a military term, calling them the host or the warning 
army of heaven. After a similar mode of expression he calls 
men beasts and trees the host or army of the earth. Perhaps 
this is in anticipation of the solemn realities that were to come. 
For God afterwards calls himself also the God of hosts or of 
armies; that is, not of angels and of spirits only, but of the 
whole creation also, which was for him and serves him. For 
ever since Satan was cast off by God for sin he has been filled 
with such desperate hatred of God and of men that he would, 




destroy all things. But God has created all these creatures that 
they may be a standing army as it were ; that they might fight 
for us and our subsistence against the devil and against men 
also, and thus serve us and be to us an unceasing benefit. 

V. 2. And on the seventh day God finished his work zvhich 
he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his 
work zvliieh lie had made. 

Here cavillers raise a question of this nature : Moses says 
that God "rested on the seventh day from the work he had 
made;" that is, that he ceased on the seventh day to work: 
while Christ says on the other hand, John 5 :iy, "My Father 
worketh hitherto, or until now, and I work." The passage con- 
tained in Heb. 4 13, helps to explain the present text, where it 
is written, "If they shall enter into My rest," not indeed into the 
land of promise, but into "My rest." 

My simple and plain reply to the above question is, that a 
solution of any difficulty that may be raised is furnished by the 
present text itself, when it says, "Thus the heavens and the 
earth were finished." The Sabbath or rest of the Sabbath here 
signifies that God so rested, as not to have any further design of 
creating any other heaven and earth. It does not signify that 
God ceased to preserve and govern the heaven and the earth, 
which he had now created and finished. 

Concerning the manner of the creation Moses gives us the 
fullest information in the preceding chapter, that God created 
all things by the Word ! "Let the sea bring forth fishes;" "Let 
the earth bring forth the green herb, the beast," etc., etc. And 
by the same Word, God also said, "Be fruitful and multiply 
and replenish the earth." Now all these words of God remain 
unto this present day. And therefore it is that we see the 
multiplication of all these creatures go on without cessation or 
end. Wherefore if the world were to last for a number of years 
endless and infinite, the power and efficacy of these words 
would never cease, but there would still be continued a multi- 
plication of all these creatures perpetual and endless by the 
mere infinite power of this Word of God; this Word of the 


l Z3 

first creation and foundation of all things, if I may so express 
the original and originating Word. 

The solution of the question now under consideration there- 
fore is easy and plain. "God rested on the seventh day from 
the work which he had made ;" that is, God was content with 
the earth and the heaven which he had created by the Word. 
He created not nor intended to create new heavens or new 
earths, nor new stars nor new trees. God nevertheless still 
works. He "worketh hitherto," as Christ says above. He for- 
sakes not nature, which he once made "in the beginning;" 
but he preserves and governs it to this day, by the power of 
his Word. He has ceased from his creation-work, but he has 
not ceased from his government-work. The human race began 
in Adam. In the earth began by the Word the animal race, 
if I may so speak; in the sea, the race of fishes; and in the air, 
the race of birds. But the human race did not cease in Adam, 
nor did all other races cease in the first created animals of 
their kind. The Word originally spoken upon the human race 
still remains in all its power and efficiency. The word, "Be 
fruitful and multiply," ceases not nor ever will cease, nor the 
words, "Let the sea bring forth fishes," nor "Let the earth bring- 
forth beasts and the air birds." The omnipotent power and 
efficacy of the original Word still preserves and governs the 
whole creation. 

Most clearly therefore has Moses established the great truth, 
that "In the beginning was the Word," John I :i. And as 
all creatures still increase and multiply, and are preserved and 
governed, still in the same way as they were "in the beginning," 
it manifestly follows that the Word still continues and lives, 
and that it is not dead ! When Moses says therefore, "And 
God rested on the seventh day from the work which he had 
made," his words are not to be considered as having reference 
to the general course and laws of nature nor to their continuous 
preservation and government, but simply to the "beginning;" 
that God ceased from creating, ordering and ordaining all 
things, as we generally speak, and from creating any new crea- 



tures or new kinds of animals, etc., etc. 

With respect to Martin Luther before you. If you look at 
my individual person I am a certain kind of new creature; be- 
cause sixty years ago I had no existence. This is the common 
thought and judgment of the world. But the thought and 
judgment of God arc far different. For in God's sight I was 
begotten and commenced, being multiplied immediately "from 
the beginning of the world." When God said, "Let us make 
man," lie then created me also. For whatever God willed to 
create that he did. create when he spoke the word. All things 
did not then appear indeed on a sudden before our existing 
eyes. For as the arrow or the ball from the cannon, in which 
is the greatest velocity attached to the works of men is in 
one moment directed to its mark, and yet does not reach that 
mark without a certain interval and space between, so God 
rushes, as it were by his Word, from "the beginning" to the end 
of the world. For with God there is no before nor afterwards ; 
no swift nor slow ; but all things to his eyes are at once present. 
For God is simply absolutely independent of and alone, and 
separate from all time ! 

These words of God therefore, and God said, "Let there 
be," "increase and multiply," etc., create, constitute and ordain 
all creatures, as they were, as they now are, and as they will be 
unto the end of the world. God has indeed ceased from creat- 
ing new creatures. For he has created no new heaven^ no new 
earth. But as he originally willed the sun and the moon to 
perform their courses, so have they continued to perform them 
to this day. As God then filled the sea with fishes, the heaven 
with fowls, and the earth with beasts and cattle, so have all 
these parts of his will been fulfilled to this day ; and so have 
they all been preserved to this moment, as Christ said, "My 
Father worketh hitherto and I work." For the Word, which 
God spoke in the beginning, remaineth unto this day ; as it is 
said with great majesty in Ps. 33 =9, "He spake and they were 

But here sceptics and objectors will present a further ques- 

genesis n. 


tion for reply. How can it be true, say they, that God made no 
new thing, when it is evident that the bow of heaven or the 
rainbow was created in the time of Noah? And when also the 
Lord threatened after the fall of Adam, that it should come to 
pass that the earth should bring forth thorns and thistles? 
Which thorns and thistles the earth would not have brought 
forth had Adam not sinned. Also concerning the serpent, the 
same cavillers say, that reptile ought to creep along almost 
upright with its head bending toward the earth ; for when first 
created they say it was doubtless upright as crows and pea- 
cocks move now. We readily acknowledge that this is indeed 
a new state of things, wrought also by the Word. 

It is moreover true that if Adam had not fallen by sin, there 
would not have been that ferocity in wolves, lions and bears, 
which now characterizes them. And most certainly also there 
would have been nothing in the whole creation noxious or 
annoying to man. For the text before us plainly declares that 
all things God had created were "very good." Whereas now, 
how numberless are the annoyances by which we are sur- 
rounded? To how many and how p;reat distresses, especially of 
diseases, is the body itself subject? I will say nothing about 
fleas, flies, gnats, spiders, mosquitoes, etc. What a host of 
dangers threaten us continually from the greater ferocious and 
venomous beasts? 

Although there had been none of these new or altered things 
after the creation, our sceptic objectors can surely beiieve that 
there was one glorious and marvellous "new thing," Is. 7:14, 
"that a virgin should bring forth a Son, the Son of God!" 
God therefore did not in the seventh day cease to work in 
every sense, but he works still, not only in preserving his 
whole creation, but also in altering and new-forming the crea- 
ture; wherefore that which we said above, that God ceased 
on the seventh day from creating new orders of things is not 
to be understood as true absolutely and in every sense. 

But we further reply to our cavillers that Moses is here 
speaking of nature in its yet uncorrupted state. If therefore 



man had stood un fallen in the innocency in which he was first 
created, no thorns nor thistles would have existed, no disease 
would have been known nor any violence of beasts feared. This 
is manifest from the case of Eve; she talks with the serpent 
without any fear whatever, anil as we should do with an inno- 
cent little bird or with a favorite little dog. Nor have I any 
doubt that the serpent was an exquisitely beautiful creature and 
Rifled with the peculiar excellency of having the highest praise 
for marvellous cunning, though then innocent cunning, even as 
foxes and wcazcls have that name among us now. 

Wherefore when Adam was as yet holy and innocent, all the 
animals of the creation dwelt and associated with him in the 
highest pleasure, being prepared to render him every kind of 
service gladly. Nor would there have ever been known, if 
Adam had thus continud sinless, any fear of a flood, nor would 
there consequently have ever existed a rainbow in the heavens. 
But sin caused God to alter many things and otherwise order 
them. And at the last day there will be an alteration and a 
renewal far greater still of that whole creation, which as Paul 
says is now by reason of sin, "subject to vanity," Rom. 8:20. 

Finally therefore, when Moses here says that "God rested 
on the seventh day," he is speaking with reference to the condi- 
tion of the world, as originally created; meaning that' while as 
yet there was no sin nothing new was created, that there were 
no thorns nor thistles, no serpents nor toads, and if there were 
such they possessed no venomous properties nor any inclination 
to harm. Moses speaks in this manner concerning the creation 

of the world, while yet in its state of perfection, unpolluted and 
unmarred by sin. It was then a world innocent and pure, be- 
cause man was innocent and pure. But now, as man is no 
longer the same being, so the world is no longer the same world. 
Upon the fall of man followed corruption and upon this corrup- 
tion the curse of the now corrupt creation, "Cursed is the 
ground," said God to Adam, "for thy sake ! Thorns and this- 
tles shall it bring forth unto thee!" Gen. 3:17, 18. Thus on 
account of one accursed Cain — sin, is the whole earth accursed! 


J 37 

So that now even when tilled it does not put forth its original 
virtue. After this upon the sins of the whole world is poured 
the flood over the whole earth, and the human race throughout 
the whole world is destroyed, a few righteous persons only be- 
ing saved lest the promise concerning Christ should fail of being 
fulfilled. And as it is manifest to us all that the earth is thus 
deformed by sin, so my belief is, as I have before said, that the 
light of the sun, when first created, and before the sin of Adam, 
was far more pure and more bright than it is now. 
^ It is a common saying of divines in all theological schools, 
"Clearly distinguish times and you will harmonize all the Scrip- 
tures." Wherefore we must speak far otherwise concerning the 
world, under its present wretched corruption, by which it has 
been marred through the sin of Adam, than concerning the 
world when as yet it was in its state of original purity and 
perfection. Let us take an example still in our sight and 
knowledge. Those who have visited the "land of promise" in 
our day affirm, that there is nothing in it like unto that com- 
mendation of it which we have in the holy Scriptures. In con- 
firmation of these statements a citizen of Stolberg, after having 
visited Palestine and surveyed with all possible diligence of ob- 
servation, declared that he considered his own field in Germany 
a far more delightful spot. For on account of the sin, wicked- 
ness and ungodliness of men it is reduced to a positive pickle- 
tub, to "a salt land not inhabited ;" so actually is the very es- 
sence of the curse of God upon it fulfilled, as it is said, Gen. 
3 -.17, 18 ; Ps. 107 :34. Thus Sodom also before it was destroyed 
by fire from heaven was a certain paradise, a garden of the 
Lord, Gen. 13 :io. Thus does the curse of God generally follow 
sin, and that curse so changes things, that from the best the)' 
become the worst. Moses therefore, we repeat, is here speaking 
concerning the state of all creatures in their original perfection ; 
as they were before the sin of man. For if man had not sinned,' 
all beasts and every other creature would have remained in obe- 
dience to him until God should have translated him from para- 
dise, or from earth to heaven. But after his sin, all things 



were changed for the worse. 

According to these expressions therefore the solution given 
by us above to all sceptics, cavillers and objectors stands good, 
that God in six days finished his work, and that on the "seventh 
day" he rested from all his work which he had made; that is, 
that he ceased from ordaining the certain orders of things, and 
that then, whatsoever he willed afterwards to work, he did 
work. Bat God did not say afterwards, "Let there be a new 
earth ;" "Let there he a new sea," etc. With respect to that 
wonderful "new thing;" that, after the creation was finished, 
the virgin Mary brought forth the Son of God, it is indeed man- 
ifest that God made our calamity, into which we had fallen by 
sin, the cause of this marvellous blessing. But God so wrought 
even this mighty work that he showed beforehand that he 
would, by his Word, do this glorious work also ; even as he has 
also signified in his Word, that he will by the same Word do 
other marvelous things. 

Thus have we replied then to these questions of all cavilling 
objectors concerning God's having finished the heavens and 
the earth and concerning his having made other things new 
afterwards. We must continue this explanation to learn what 
this Sabbath or rest of God is, and also in what manner God 
sanctified the Sabbath, as the sacred text declares. 

II. V. 3. And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed 
it, because that in it he rested from all his work which God had 
created and made. 

Christ says, Mark 2:27, that "the Sabbath was made for 
man, and not man for the Sabbath." But Moses says nothing 
here about man. He does not even say positively that any 
commandment concerning the Sabbath was given to man. But 
what Moses here says is that God blessed the Sabbath and sane- 
tified it to himself. It is moreover to be remarked that God 
did this to no other creature. God did not sanctify to himself 
the heaven nor the eartli nor any other creature. But God did 
sanctify to himself the seventh day. This was especially de- 
signed of God, to cause us to understand that the "seventh 



day" is to be especially devoted to divine worship. For that 
which is appropriated to God and exclusively separated from 
all profane uses is sanctified or holy. Hence the expression 
"to sanctify," "to choose for divine uses or for the worship of 
God," is often applied by Moses U ;he sacred vessels of the 

It follows therefore from this passage, that if Adam had 
stood in his innocence and had not fallen he would yet have 
observed the "seventh day" as sanctified, holy and sacred ; that 
is, he would have taught his children and posterity on that day 
concerning the will and worship of God ; he would have praised 
God, he would have given him thanks, and would have brought 
to him his offerings, etc., etc. On the other days he would have 
tilled his land and attended to his cattle. Nay, even after the 
fall he held the "seventh day" sacred; that is, he taught on 
that day his own family. This is testified by the offerings made 
by his two sons, Cain and Abel. The Sabbath therefore has, 
from the beginning of the world, been set apart for the worship 
of God. In this manner nature in its innocency, had it continued 
unfallen, would have proclaimed the glory and blessings of God. 
Men would have talked together on the Sabbath day concern- 
ing the goodness of their Creator, would have prayed to him, 
and would have brought to him their offerings, etc. For all 
these things are implied and signified in the expression "sanc- 

Moreover in this same sanctification of the Sabbath is includ- 
ed and implied the immortality of the human race. Hence the 
Epistle to the Hebrews speaks most beautifully concerning the 
rest of God, from the 95th Ps. : "If they shall enter into my 
rest." For the rest of God is an eternal rest. Adam therefore, 
had he not fallen, would have lived a certain time in paradise, 
according to the length of time which God pleased ; and after- 
wards he would have been carried away into that rest of God, 
which rest God willed not only to intimate unto man, but 
highly to commend unto him by this sanctification of the Sab- 
bath. Thus had Adam not fallen his life would have been both 



animal and happy, and spiritual and eternal. But now we 
miserable men have lost all this felicity of the animal life by sin ; 
and while we do live, we live in the midst of death. Yet 
since this command of God concerning the Sabbath is left to 
the Church, God signifies thereby that even that spiritual life 
shall be restored to us through Christ. Hence the prophets 
have all diligently searched into these passages, in which Moses 
obscurely indicates also the resurrection of the flesh and the life 

Further by this sanctifkation of the Sabbath it is also plainly 
shown that man was especially created for the knowledge and 
worship of God. For the Sabbath was not instituted on account 
of sheep or oxen, but for the sake of men, that the knowledge 
of God might be exercised and increased by them on that sacred 
day. Although therefore man lost the knowledge of God by 
sin, yet God willed that his command concerning the sanctifying 
of the Sabbath should remain. He willed that on the seventh 
day both the Word should be preached, and also those other 
parts of his worship performed, which he himself instituted ; to 
the end that by these appointed means we should first of all 
think solemnly on our condition in the world as men; that 
this nature of ours was created at first expressly for the know- 
ledge and the glorifying of God; and also that by these same 
sacred means we might hold fast in our minds the sure hope of 
a future and eternal life. 

Indeed all things which God willed to be done on the Sab- 
bath are evident signs of another life after this present life. For 
what need would there be of God's speaking to us by his Word, 
if we were not designed to live another and eternal life after 
this life? And if no future life is to be hoped for by us, why do 
we not live as those other creatures with whom God talketh not 
and who have no knowledge of God? But as the divine Ma- 
jesty talketh with man alone, and he alone acknowledges and 
apprehends God, it necessarily follows that there is for us an- 
other life after this life, to which it is cur great business to at- 
tain by the Word and the knowledge of God. For as to this 



temporal and present life it is a mere animal life as all the 
beasts live, which know not God nor the Word. 

This then is the meaning of the Sabbath or the "rest"' of God. 
It is a sanctified day of rest, on which God speaks to or talks 
xvith us, and we in turn speak to and talk with him in prayer 
and by faith. The beasts indeed learn to hear and also to un- 
derstand the voice of man, as dogs, horses, sheep, oxen; and 
they are also preserved and fed by man. But our condition as 
men is far better and higher ; for we both hear God and know 
his will, and are called to a sure hope of immortality. This 
is testified by those most manifest promises concerning the life 
eternal, which God has plainly revealed to us by his Word, 
since he gave to the world the obscure significations contained 
in this divine Book ; such as this rest of God and this sanctifi- 
cation of the Sabbath. However these indications concerning 
the Sabbath are not obscure but evident and plain. For only 
suppose for a moment that there were no eternal life after this. 
Would it not immediately follow that we should have no need 
either of God or his Word ? For that which we merely require 
or do in this life we can have and do without the Word of 
God. Even as beasts feed, live and grow fat without the Word. 
For what need is there of the Word to procure meat and drink, 
thus created for us beforehand ? 

As God therefore thus giveth us the Word, as he thus com- 
mands the preaching and exercising of the Word, as he thus 
commands the sanctifying of the Sabbath in the worship of 
himself, all these things prove that there remained: another 
life after this life, and that man is created not to a corporeal life 
only, as the beasts are, but to a life eternal, even as God, who 
commands and institutes these- things, is himself eternal. 

But here another inquiry may arise concerning the fall of 
Adam itself, upon which indeed wc have already touched : On 
what day Adam fell, whether on the seventh or on some other 
day? Although nothing indeed can be said as certain on this 
matter, my free and full opinion is that his fall was on the sev- 
enth day. It was on the sixth day that he was created. And 



Eve was created about the evening or close of the sixth day, 
while Adam was asleep. On the seventh day, which by the 
Lord had been sanctified, God talks with Adam, gives him 
commandment concerning his worship, and forbids him to eat 
the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. For this 
indeed was the appropriate work or duty of the seventh clay : 
the preaching and the hearing of the Word of God. Hence 
both from the Scriptures and from universal practice, hath 
remained the custom of appointing the morning as the time for 
prayer and sermons ; as we have it also in the Psalms : "In the 
morning will I stand before Thee, and will look up," Ps. 5 =3, 

On the seventh day therefore, in the morning, Adam appears 
to have heard the Lord giving commandment concerning his 
domestic and national duty, the private and public worship of 
God, together with the prohibition concerning the fruit of the 
tree. Satan therefore unable to endure this most beautiful crea- 
tion of man and this holy appointment of the Sabbath, and 
envying him so much felicity, and moreover seeing all things 
so abundantly provided for him on earth, and finding him in 
the possession of the hope of enjoying, after so happy a corpor- 
eal life, an eternal life, which he himself had lost, Satan seeing 
all this about the twelfth hour, perhaps after God's sermon to 
Adam and Eve, himself preaches to Eve. Just as he has al- 
ways done to this day. Wherever the Word of God is, there he 
attempts also to sow lies and heresies. For it agonizes him 
that we by the Word become as Adam did in paradise, citizens 
of heaven. So Satan on this occasion tempts Eve to sin, and 
gains the victory over her. The sacred text before us moreover 
declares that when the heat of the day had subsided, the Lord 
came into the garden and condemned Adam with all his poster- 
ity to death. I am myself quite persuaded that all these things 
took place on the very day of the Sabbath, which one day only, 
and that not for the whole day, Adam lived in paradise, and 
enjoyed himself in eating its fruits. 

By sin therefore did man lose all this felicity. Nor would 
Adam, had he remained in paradise in all his original innocence. 



have lived a life of idleness. He would have taught his children 
on the Sabbath day, he would have magnified God with worthy 
high-praises by public preaching, and he would have stirred up 
himself and others to offerings of thanks, by a contemplation of 
God's great and glorious works. On all other days he would 
have worked by tilling his ground and attending to his beasts, 
etc. But in a manner and from motives now wholly unknown 
to man. For all our labor is annoyance, but all Adam's labor 
was the highest pleasure, a pleasure far exceeding all the ease 
that is now known. Hence as all the other calamities of life 
remind us of sin and the wrath of God, so our labor and all 
our difficulty in procuring food ought to remind us of sin also 
and to drive us to repentance. 

Moses now proceeds to describe man more particularly, re- 
peating first of all what he had said concerning his creation in 
the first chapter. And though the recapitulations may seem 
superfluous, yet as the divine historian wishes to maintain a 
continuation of his history, with all due convenience and order, 
the repetition is by no means useless. 

V. 4, 5a. These are the generations of the heavens and of 
the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God 
made earth and heaven. And no plant of the field was yet in 
the earth, and no herb of the Held had yet sprung up. 

"In the day" is here to be taken for an indefinite time, as if 
Moses had said, At that time the state of all things was most 
beautiful; but now I must describe a condition of things far 
different. We need not here inquire however in a superstitious 
manner, why Moses chose to use these rustic forms of expres- 
sion concerning "the plants of the field" and "herbs of the 
field." For his object now is to describe the creation of man in 
its more circumstantial "particulars. 

V. 5b, 6. For Jehovah God had not caused it to rain upon 
the earth: and there was not a man to till the ground; but there 
went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of 
the ground. 

There was not as yet any rain, Moses says, to water the 



earth ; but a certain mist went up and watered the whole face of 
the earth, to cause it to bring forth more abundantly afterwards. 
Now these thing's belong properly to the third day. 

III. V. 7. And Jehovah God formed man- of the dust of 
the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; 
and man became a living soul. 

Moses here returns to the work of the sixth day and shows 
whence this cultivator of the earth came; namely, that God 
formed him out of the ground, as the potter forms in his hand 
the vessel out of clay. Hence Moses does not represent Jeho- 
vah God as saying in this case as in that of all the other crea- 
tures, "Let the earth bring forth man ;" but"L<?; Us make man" 
He describes God as thus speaking in this case in order that he 
might set forth the excellency of the human race, and that be 
might make manifest that peculiar counsel to which God had 
recourse in creating or making man. However after his crea- 
tion man grew and multiplied as all the other animals and beasts 
of the earth multiply. For the seed of all animals coagulates in 
the womb and is formed in the same manner in them all. In 
this case of generation there is no difference between the foetus 
formed in the cow and that formed in the woman. But with 
reference to their first creation Moses testifies that there was 
the greatest possible difference. For he shows in this divine 
record that the human nature was created by a peculiarity of di- 
vine counsel and wisdom, and formed by the very finger of God. 

This difference, which God made in the original creation of 
man and of cattle, likewise manifests forth the immortality of 
the soul, of which we spoke above. And though all the other 
works of God are full of wonder and admiration and truly mag- 
nificent, yet that man is the most excellent and glorious creature 
of all is evident from the fact that God in creating him had re- 
course to deep counsel and to a mode entirely different from 
that which he adopted in creating all the other creatures. For 
God does not leave it to the earth, to form or bring forth man, 
as it brought forth beasts and trees. But God forms man him- 
self, "in the image" of himself, as a participator of the divine 


nature and as one designed to enjoy the rest of God. Hence 
Adam before he is formed by Jehovah, is a mere lifeless lump 
of earth, lying on the ground. God takes that lump of earth 
into his hand and forms out of it a most beautiful creature, a 
partaker of immortality. 

Now if Aristotle were to hear these things lie would burst out 
into a loud laugh and would say, that the whole matter was a 
fable ; a very pleasant one indeed but a very absurd one ; that 
man, who was a lump of earth as to his original, is so formed 
by divine wisdom to be capable of immortality. For those an- 
cient philosophers, as Socrates and others, who taught the im- 
mortality of the soul, were laughed at and almost cast out by all 
their fellows. But is it not the very extremity of folly for rea- 
son to take this great offense, when it beholds the generation of 
man to this very day full of greatest wonder! For who would 
not judge it an absurdity to suppose that man, who is designed 
to live eternally, should be born from one single drop as it were 
of seed from the loins of the father? There is even a greater 
apparent absurdity in this than in Moses saying, that man was 
formed from a lump of earth by the finger of God. But by all 
this folly reason plainly shows that she understands nothing of 
God, who, by the efficacy of a single thought, thus makes out 
of a lump of earth not only the seed of man, but man himself ; 
and makes also, as Moses afterwards says, the woman out of 
a single rib of the man. This then is the origin of man ! 

Man therefore having been thus created, male and female, 
from their blood under the divine blessing is generated the 
whole human race. And although this generation is common to 
man and beasts, that similarity by no means detracts from the 
glory of our original formation ; that we arc vessels of God, 
fashioned by his own hand ; that he is our potter and we his 
clay; as Isaiah speaks in his 64th chapter. Nor does this sol- 
emn state of things pertain to our original only, but pervades 
our whole life, and even unto death and in the tomb we are still 
the clay of this Potter ! 

From this same creation of man also we may learn, what the 



real power of free will is, of which our adversaries boast so 
much. We have indeed in a certain sense a free will, in those 
tilings which arc put under us. For we are by the command of 
God appointed lords of the fishes of the sea, of the fowls of hea- 
ven and of the beasts of the field. These we kill when we please. 
We enjoy the food, and other blessings thay supply. But in the 
things pertaining unto God, which are above us and not put 
under us, man has no free-will at all. But he is in reality as 
clay in the hand of the potter. He is placed under the mere 
power of God, passively and not actively. In this our real posi- 
tion wc choose nothing, we do nothing. On the contrary we are 
chosen, we are prepared, we are regenerated ; we receive only ; 
as the prophet Isaiah saith, "Thou art our potter; we are thy 
clay," Is. 64 :8. 

Rut here a lawful and holy inquiry of a new description may 
be made. As Moses speaks of the creation of man here in a 
new phraseology, "And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of 
the ground ;" and as he did not use the same form of expres- 
sion above, when the other living creatures were created, so he 
here mentions a further distinction in man which is not said of 
any other animate creature : "And God breathed into his nos- 
trils the breath of life." This Moses does not say in reference to 
any of the beasts, though all beasts, as well as man, have the 
breath of life in their nostrils. We may here therefore sacredly 
inquire first, why it is that Moses is here led to speak thus. And 
secondly, why it is recorded in this place concerning man only, 
that God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man 
became a living soul," when all animals throughout the whole 
Scripture are called "living creatures." The divine expressions 
recorded by Moses above are, "Let the earth bring forth every 
living creature after his kind." But here the phraseology is 
altogether changed, "And man became a living soul." 

These were the things that, doubtless, moved the patriarchs, 
the holy fathers and prophets of old, to examine diligently pas- 
sages of this description in order to discover what these singular 
forms of speech might signify, being assured that the sacred 



historian intended by them something peculiar and great and 
especially worthy of knowledge. 

For if you look at the mere animal life of which Moses is 
here speaking, there is no difference between the man and the 
ass. For the animal life in both stands in need of meat and 
drink. It needs sleep and rest. The bodies of both grow and 
are fattened alike by meat and drink. And from the want of 
meat and drink both waste and perish alike. In both the stom- 
ach receives the food and transmits it when digested to the bel- 
ly, which generates the blood, by which all the members are re- 
freshed and restored. When we consider these things in them- 
selves, I say, there is no difference between the man and the 
beast. But Moses in this place so exalts the life of man that he 
says of him alone of all animals, that he "became a living soul •" 
not a living creature or a living thing like all the beasts of the 
earth, but in a more exalted sense "a living soul ;" and that, be- 
cause he was created "in the image of God," which image there 
can be no doubt whatever, shone with a peculiar brightness in 
the countenances of Adam and Eve, while yet in their state of 
innocence. Hence it is that even after the sin and fall, the 
heathen poets, etc., concluded from the position of his body, 
from his upright carriage and from the elevation of his eyes to 
heaven, that man was a creature far more excellent than any 
other creature in existence. 

It is to this surpassing excellency that St. Paul refers when 
he recites the passage before us in 1 Cor. 15:45. It is there 
written, "The first man Adam became a living soul. The last 
Adam became a life-giving spirit." By a living soul in this pas- 
sage the apostle means the animal life, which consists in eating, 
drinking, growing, sleeping, generating, etc.; all which are 
found also in brutes. But by an antithesis he says that "the 
last Adam was made a life-giving spirit." This is a life which 
needs not, and knows not, the conditions of the animal life. 
Paul moreover here teaches us that Adam, even if he had not 
sinned, would yet have lived a corporeal life ; a life which would 
have needed meat, drink and rest; a life which would have 



grown, increased and generated, etc., until God should have 
translated him to that spiritual life, in which he would have 
lived without natural animality, if I may so express it; namely, 
a life from within, derived from God alone ; and not a life from 
without as before, sustained by herbs and fruits. And yet he 
would have been a man with body and bones, etc., and not a 
pure spirit, as angels are. 

My reply therefore to the new inquiry, above admitted, is 
this: God by the mouth of Moses speaking in the passage 
before us designed to set forth the hope of that future and eter- 
nal life which Adam, if he had continued in his innocency, would 
have enjoyed after this present animal life. As if Moses had 
said, Man became a living soul ; not merely in the sense of that 
life which beasts live, but in the sense of that life which God 
afterwards designed Adam to live, even without any animal 
life at all. And this same hope of immortality or an immortal 
life, we now have through Christ. Although on account of sin 
we are subject to death and all kinds of calamity. But Adam's 
natural life, when he became a living soul, was designed to be 
far exalted above that which we now live since the fall. He 
would have lived on earth sweetly, happily and with the high- 
est pleasure; and then would have been translated at the time 
determined in the mind of God, out of the animal life into the 
spiritual and eternal life; and that translation would have been 
attended with no pain or trouble whatever. Whereas we are 
not translated out of this animal life into the life spiritual and 
eternal, but by death ; and that, after an infinity of evils, perils 
and crosses. 

It was after this manner that we ought, like the holy pro- 
phets, diligently to look into all these expressions of Moses, and 
to inquire why it is that, with such depth of purpose and design, 
he speaks concerning man in terms so different from those he 
used when speaking of all other living creatures. The design 
evidently was that our faith and hope of immortality might be 
confirmed, and that we might be assured that although the life 
of man as to his animal life is like that of all other living crea- 

GKNliSIS n. 


t tires, even of brutes, yet that he possesses a hope of immor- 
tality unpossessed by, and wholly unknown to, any other living 
creature ; that he possesses and bears the image and similitude 
of God, with no particle of which any other animal is dignified 
or favored. 

And thus by a most beautiful allegory, or rather by a most 
excellent figure, Moses here intimates, though obscurely, that 
God would become incarnate. For with reference to man's dif- 
fering in no respect from a sheep, as to his animal life, though 
created in the image and after the similitude of God ; that asser- 
tion is in fact, a kind of statement by contraries, as they term it 
in the schools ; or, according to another term of theirs, an addi- 
tion by opposition. And yet as man was created in the image 
of the invisible God, by this sublime fact is signified in obscure 
figure, as we shall hereafter hear from Moses, that God would 
reveal himself in this world in the Man, Christ. These seeds 
as it were of the greatest and most marvelous things, did the 
prophets diligently search out and gather from the divine his- 
torian Moses. 


I. V. 8, And Jehovah God planted a garden eastward in 
Eden.; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 

Here rises before us a whole sea of questions concerning par- 
adise. In the first place, the word itself, whether it be Hebrew, 
Chaldean or Persian, for I do not think it is Greek, though Sui- 
das endeavors to discover a Greek origin, is rendered by the 
Latins hortus, "a garden." This garden, Moses says, was plant- 
ed be eden, in Eden. For this name of the place is not appel- 
lative or descriptive, as our translation renders it, "paradise of 
pleasure." Eden does, indeed, signify pleasure or delight, and 
from this name of the garden is doubtless formed the Greek 
word adona, but the preposition being here added to it plainly 
proves that Eden is in this place to be taken for the proper name 
of a place; which is further proved by the particular description 
of the place, for the garden is said to have been to the eastward 



of it. Our translation renders it a principio, "from the begin- 
ning," which is also a bad version of the expression. For the 
original term is mikkedem, which does not properly signify 
"from the beginning," but "in front," that is according to our 
mode of expression and meaning, "toward the East." For the 
original word is an adverb of place, not of time. 

Hence there arises here another matter of dispute, as to 
where paradise is. Commentators puzzle and rack themselves 
on this point in an extraordinary manner. Some will have its 
situation to be under the equator between the two tropics. Oth- 
ers say it must have been a more temperate atmosphere, to 
cause a place to be so richly and abundantly productive. But 
why should I proceed? Opinions upon the subject are beyond 
number. My short and simple reply to them all is, that every 
question upon a place or thing which no longer exists, is idle 
and useless. For Moses is here describing things which oc- 
curred before the Flood and even before sin was in the world. 
Whereas, we have to deal with things as they were and are 
since the sin of Adam and since the Deluge. 

My belief is therefore that this spot of earth was called Eden, 
cither by Adam or in the time of Adam, on account of that 
astonishing productiveness and that delightful pleasurableness, 
which Adam experienced in it, and that the name of a place so 
delightful, remained with posterity long after the place itself 
was lost and gone. Just as the names of Rome, Athens and 
Carthage exist among us at this day, though scarcely any traces 
of those mighty states and kingdoms can now be discovered. 

For time and the curse which sins merit consume all things. 
When therefore the world with all the men and beasts upon it 
was destroyed by the Flood, this noble and beautiful garden per- 
ished also, and all traces of it were washed away from the face 
of the earth. In vain therefore do Origen and others enter 
upon their absurd disputations. The text moreover says that 
this garden was guarded by an angel, lest any one should enter 
it. Even if this garden therefore had not perished by the curse 
which followed, as doubtless it did, yet man's entrance into it 



is thus absolutely and forever prevented, as is indicated by the 
guardian angeFs flaming sword. Its place can nowhere he 
found. This latter answer concerning the curse might be given 
to all questioners and disputers, though the former argument 
concerning the inevitable consequences of the Deluge, I deem 
less imaginative and more conclusive. 

But what shall we say to that text of the New Testament, 
"Today shalt thou be with me in paradise," Luke 23 : 43? And 
to that passage also, "He was caught up into paradise," 2 Cor. 
12:4? I have no hesitation whatever in affirming that Christ 
did not go with the thief into any corporeal place. For that 
point is made quite plain from the case of Paul, who says, "that 
he knew not whether he was in the body, or out of the body," 
verses 2 and 3, Wherefore my opinion is that in each case by 
paradise is meant that condition or state in which Adam was, 
when in paradise, full of peace and rest and safety, and full of 
all those gifts of blessedness, which arc enjoyed where there is 
no sin and no death. As if Christ had said, today shalt thou be 
with me in paradise, free from sin, and safe from death. Just 
as Adam in Paradise was free from sin and from all death and 
from all curse. Thus I believe paradise to be a paradise state. 
Just as the Scriptures, when speaking of the bosom of Abraham, 
does not mean the very fold of the robe which covered the 
bosom of Abraham, but descriptively that life or state of life in 
which the souls of the departed enjoy the heavenly life, and the 
peace and rest which "remain for the people of God," ITeb. 4:9. 
Wherefore my testimony concerning this text is, that 'doses 
is here giving us an historical description and informing us 
that there was a certain place toward the East, in which there 
was a most beautiful and fruitful garden. For, as I have before 
said, the Hebrew expression mikkedem properly signifies a 
place, not a time, as our version improperly renders it. Hence 
it is usual with the Hebrews to call the East wind kadim, a dry 
cold wind which parches the fields. In that region of the world 
therefore was paradise or a garden, in which there were no tcil- 
trees, nor oaks, nor scarlet-oaks, nor any other trees that were 



barren, but tbe richest and noblest fruits of every kind and trees 
of the noblest description; such as we now deem those to be 
which bear cinnamon and the richest spices. And although all 
the rest of the earth was cultivated, for there were as yet no 
thistles nor thorns, yet this place had its far higher cultivation. 
This Eden was a delightful garden, exceeding in cultivation and 
fecundity the whole earth besides. Though all the rest of the 
earth, if compared with its present miserable condition, was 
itself a paradise. 

It was in this garden, which he himself had planted with such 
peculiar care, that the Lord placed man. All these things, I 
say, are historical. It is idle for us therefore to inquire at the 
present day, where or what that garden was. The rivers, of 
which Moses afterwards speaks, prove that the region of its sit- 
uation comprehended Syria, Mesopotamia, Damascus and 
Egypt, and it is in the midst of these as it were that Jerusalem 
is situated. And as this garden was destined for Adam with 
his posterity, it is in vain for us to imagine it to have been a 
confined garden of a few miles extent. It was doubtless the 
greater and better part of the earth. And my judgment is, that 
this garden continued until the Deluge; and that before the 
Hood it was protected by God himself, according to the descrip- 
tion of Moses, by a guard of angels. So that I believe it to have 
been a place well known to the posterity of Adam, though inac- 
cessible to them. And my opinion is, that it continued thus 
known until the Flood utterly destroyed it and left no traces of 
it remaining. Such is my mind on this subject. And such is 
my reply to all questions which over curious men would move 
concerning a place, which after the sin and the Deluge had no 
longer any existence or trace of former existence. 

Origen however is dissatisfied with any view of the extent of 
the garden of Eden, corresponding to that which I have taken. 
His opinion is that the distance of the rivers ought by no means 
to determine the dimensions of the garden. But he is thinking 
all the time about such gardens as we now generally cultivate. 
Hence he has recourse in his usual way to an allegory. He 



makes paradise to represent heaven ; the trees, angels ; and the 
streams of rivers, wisdom. But these triflings are unworthy a 
divine. They may perhaps not be unbecoming an imaginative 
poet ; but they are out of place in a theologian. Origen bears 
not in mind that Moses is here writing a history ; and that, too, 
a record of things, now long ago passed away. 

After this same fashion do our adversaries absurdly dispute 
at the present day holding that the image and similitude of God 
still remain, even in a wicked man. They would, in my judg- 
ment speak much nearer the truth, if they were to say that the 
image of God in man has perished and disappeared ; just as the 
original world and paradise have done. Man in the beginning 
was righteous ; the world in the beginning was most beautiful. 
Eden was in truth a garden of delight.and of pleasure. But 
all these things were deformed by sin and remain deformed still. 
All creatures, yea even the sun and the moon, have as it were 
put on sackcloth. They were all originally "good," but by sin 
and the curse they became defiled and noxious. At length came 
the greater curse of the Flood, which destroyed paradise and 
the whole human race, and swept them from the face of the 
earth. For if at this day rivers, bursting their banks, inflict 
by their floods such mighty calamities on men, beasts and fields, 
what must we suppose to have been the awfulness and horror of 
the calamities brought upon the earth by the universal Deluge 1 
Whenever therefore we would speak of paradise, since the 
Flood, let us speak of that now historical paradise, which was 
once, but now has no longer existence in any trace. Let us 
speak of it just as we are compelled to speak of the original in- 
nocence of man. In doing so our utmost effort can effect no 
more than to reflect with a sigh that it is lost, and that we nev- 
er can repair or regain it in this life. 

But further, as Moses had before distinguished man in vari- 
ous ways from the brutes, which nevertheless have the same 
origin as we have, brutes being formed like us from the earth ; 
so the divine historian in this place distinguishes man from ev- 
ery other creature by giving a description of that peculiarly de- 



lightful garden, and that superb dwelling-place, which God had 
planted with great care and culture, and prepared with mag- 
nificent splendor, far beyond anything of the kind which he 
had bestowed on any other spot upon the face .of the earth at 
that time. 

For the principal object of Moses in his sacred record of 
the creation of man was to cause it to be clearly understood 
that man was by far the noblest and most excellent creature,' 
which God had made. The brute animals had the earth, on 
the grass of which they might feed. But for man, God himself 
prepared a more noble dwelling-place, in the cultivation and 
adorning of which he might labor with extreme pleasure, and 
in which he might find his food, separated from the beasts in- 
deed, but nevertheless holding all of them throughout the whole 
earth under his dominion. 

Therefore Origen, Jerome and all the other allegorists are 
alike involved in the greatest folly, who because they can no 
longer find a paradise on the face of the earth think that some 
other sense than the natural one is to be given in its interpreta- 
tion. But that there was a paradise and that there is a paradise 
arc two very different subjects for consideration. Moses, as is 
the general nature of all such narrations, merely records that 
there was a paradise. The case is the same in reference to 
Adam's dominion over all the beasts. He could call the lion, 
and command and manage him, according to his will and pleas- 
ure ; but it is not so now. All these glorious things are no more. 
They are simply and merely, though sacredly, recorded by 
Moses as having been in the beginning. 

Another question is here agitated, as to the spot of the earth 
where God created man. There are some who maintain with 
great warmth that he was created in or near Damascus ; because 
they find it recorded that the soil of Damascus is red and fertile. 
But I pass by all idle and vain inquiries of this description. It 
is enough for us to know that man was formed out of the earth 
on the sixth day after all the other animals had been created, 
and that he was placed by God himself in the garden of Eden. 



But as to the very spot on which he was created, what necessity 
is there for our knowing that? It is certain that he was created 
out of paradise. For the text before us declares that he was 
removed to or placed in paradise, before Eve was created who, 
as Moses here shows, was created in paradise. 

Now let us proceed to that which follows : 

V. 9a. And out of the ground made Jehovah God to grow 
every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. 

The contents of this verse properly belong to the description 
of paradise. For although the whole earth had been so created 
as naturally to bring forth trees and herbs, with their fruits and 
seeds, yet this garden of Eden had its peculiar cultivation. A 
similitude illustrative of the case before us may be derived from 
things as they now are among us. Woods and fields bring forth 
their trees. But when we select a place as a garden for special 
cultivation, the fruits of the garden are always more excellent 
than those of the field. So paradise, having been created for 
and devoted to peculiar cultivation, beyond that which was be- 
stowed on any other part of the earth, was adorned with trees 
delightful to the sight, whose fruits were sweet to the taste and 
for use, When therefore God said, in the first chapter, verse 
29, "Behold I have given you every herb and every tree for 
food :" by that meat was meant necessary food. But paradise 
supplied food for pleasure and delight; fruits better, sweeter 
and more delicious than those which the trees of any other part 
of the earth produced. On these the beasts also fed. 

II. V. 9b. The tree of life also in the midst of the garden, 
and the tree of the knowledge (scientiae) of good and evil. 

Moses so describes paradise that he makes God himself as it 
were the cultivator of it ; as a cultivator, who after he has plant- 
ed a garden with the greatest care according to his pleasure, 
selects this and that tree from the rest, which he tills and loves 
as particular favorites. One of these trees was "the tree of 
life," a tree created to the end that man by feeding on i; might 
be preserved with a sound body, free from diseases, and not 
subject to fatigue. 



Here again we find the man, whom God first created, highly 
distinguished from the brutes ; not only by the delightful spot 
in which God placed him, but also by the exalted privilege of a 
longer life, a life always continuing in the same state. Whereas 
the bodies of all other living creatures grow in youth and in- 
crease in strength, but in old age decay and perish. But the 
original condition of man was intended to be far different. Had 
he continued in his innocence he would have enjoyed his meat 
and his drink ; a change of his meat and drink and a conversion 
of them into blood would have taken place in his body, but that 
commutation would not have been impure and foul as it is now. 
This tree of life moreover would have preserved him in perpet- 
ual youth, nor would he have experienced any of the afflictions 
or inconveniences of old age. His brow would have contracted 
no wrinkles, nor would his foot nor his hand nor any other part 
of his body have known weakness or languor. By the blessing 
of the fruit of this tree man's powers would have remained per- 
fect for generation and for labor of every kind ; until at length 
he should have been translated from this corporeal to his spir- 
itual life. The other trees would have supplied him with food 
the most excellent and the most delicious ; but this "tree of life" 
would have been as it were a general medicine which would 
have preserved his natural life and powers in perpetual and 
complete vigor. 

Some may here interpose the question, How could this cor- 
poreal food or natural fruit effect such a conservation of the 
body as to prevent it from being weakened or debilitated by 
time? The reply is easy and divine. "He spake, and it was 
done !" Ps. 33 :g. For if God can make bread of a stone, why 
should he not be able to preserve the natural powers of man by 
a fruit? Even since the sin of the fall we see what powerful 
properties the smallest herbs and seeds possess. 

Look for a moment at our own bodies. Whence comes that 
peculiar property of their nature that bread, eaten by them, is 
by their natural heat digested and converted into blood, by the 
circulation of which the whole body is strengthened and con- 

CENES1S 11. 


firmed ? Now bring together all the fires and all the furnaces of 
the universe, you cannot produce by them all this one single ef- 
fect, the conversion of bread into blood. But this mighty effect 
is produced by that small degree of heat, which our natural 
bodies contain. There is no room for wonder therefore that 
this tree should have become by the will of the Lord, its Planter 
and Maker, "The tree of life !" 

Adam possessed a natural and movable body, a body which 
generated, ate and labored. These exertions are considered to 
produce decay or at least some kind of change, by which at 
length man is naturally worn out and destroyed. But by this 
appointment of nature, "the tree of life," God provided a rem- 
edy, by the use of which man might have a long and sound life, 
without any diminution of his powers and in perpetual youth. 

Thus all these things are historical facts. This is a point 
which I am repeatedly admonishing every hearer and reader to 
bear in mind, lest he should be stumbled by the authority of 
some of the fathers, who leaving pure and positive history turn 
aside to hunt allegories. It is on this ground that I am so par- 
tial to Lyra and so willingly rank him with the best of commen- 
tators. He always carefully abides by and follows history. And 
although he sometimes permits himself to be swayed by the 
authority of the fathers, yet he never suffers himself to be 
turned aside by their authority from the plain and real sense of 
any portion of the Scriptures to allegories. 

But much more wonderful is that which Moses here speaks 
concerning "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." For 
here we have to inquire, what this tree was, why it was so called 
and what would have been the consequence, or result, if there 
had not been this tree in paradise. Augustine and those who 
follow him rightly consider the matter, when they observe that 
the tree was so called from that which was shortly to take place 
and to be ordained concerning it; and from the solemn conse- 
quences which followed. For Adam had been so created and 
the garden of Eden so planted and constituted that if any incon- 
venience had occurred to his natural body and life, he had a 



protection against it and remedy for it in "the tree of life," 
which could preserve his powers and the perfection of his 
health at all limes. Wherefore if Adam had thus remained in 
his innoccncy, wholly swallowed up in the goodness of his 
Creator and in the bountiful provision which that goodness 
had made for him on every side and in every way, he might 
have acknowledged God his Creator throughout that life of 
innocence and might have governed all the beasts according to 
his will, not only without the least painful toil or trouble, but 
also with the highest pleasure. For all things had been so 
created as to afford man the extreme of pleasure and delight 
without the least degree of evil or harm. 

After Adam therefore had been so created and so surrounded 
with every blessing that he was intoxicated as it were with joy 
in God and with delight in all the other creatures around him, 
God then creates a new tree, a tree of knowledge and of dis- 
tinction between good and evil, in order that Adam by means 
of that tree might have a certain sign of worship and rever- 
ence of God. For after all things had been delivered into the 
hand of Adam that he might enjoy them according to his will 
or according to his pleasure, God next requires of him that by 
means of this "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" he 
should show his reverence and obedience towards God as his 
Creator ; and that he should hold fast, as a sign of this exercise 
of his obedient worship of God, that he would not taste any of 
the fruit of this tree ; thus refraining, as in obedience to God's 

All therefore that Moses has hitherto said have been things 
natural or domestic, or political, or judicial, or medicinal. The 
present however is theological. For here the Word of God 
concerning this "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" 
is set before Adam, in order that by means of this tree he might 
have a certain outward sign of the worship of God and of obedi- 
ence to God, to be performed by him in his nature, as man, by 
the duty and service of an external work. Even as the Sab- 
bath, of which we have spoken above, pertains more especially 



to the performance of the internal and spiritual worship of 
God ; such as faith, love, calling upon God in prayer, etc. 

But alas ! alas ! the true institution of this external worship 
and obedience toward God has been attended with the most 
disgraceful results. For we find at the present day that the 
Word of God, than which nothing is more holy, nothing more 
blessed, is an offense unto the wicked. Baptism also was insti- 
tuted of Christ, as the washing of regeneration. But has not 
this divine institution become a great scandal and excitement 
of offense by means of various sects? Has not the whole doc- 
trine of baptism been distressingly corrupted? And yet, what 
was more necessary to us than this very institution of baptism? 
It was most necessary in order that the animal man should 
have some correspondingly animal or outward worship ; that is, 
some outward sign of worship and reverence of God, by which 
he might exercise an obedience towards God even in his body. 

The present text therefore truly belongs to the church and to 
theology. After God had given to man a polity or national 
government, and also an economy or the principles of domestic 
government, and had constituted him king over all creatures, 
and had moreover appointed for him as a protective remedy 
the tree of life, for the conservation of his corporeal or natural 
life, God now erects for him a temple as it were, that he might 
worship his Creator, and give thanks unto that God who had 
bestowed upon him all these rich and bountiful blessings. So 
at this day we have churches and an altar in them for the cele- 
bration of the holy communion or supper of our Lord ; we have 
pulpits also, or elevated chairs, for teaching the people. And 
all these things are thus prepared, not on account of necessity 
only, for the sake of solemnity also. But this tree of the knowl- 
edge of good and evil was itself to Adam his church, his altar, 
his pulpit ; near or under which, as the place appointed of God, 
he might perform his acts of obedience to God, might acknowl- 
edge the Word and the Will of God, might offer his thanks to 
God, and in which spot he might also call upon God in prayer 
against temptations. 



Reason indeed vents its rage that this tree was ever created 
at all, because by means of it we have sinned and fallen under 
the wrath of God and into death. But why does not reason on 
the same ground betray its rage that the Law was ever revealed 
by God at all, that the Gospel was ever revealed afterwards by 
the Son of God? For have not offenses of errors and heresies, 
infinite, arisen on account both of the Law and of the Gospel? 
Let us therefore learn from this passage of Scripture that it 
was necessary for man, being so created and constituted as to 
have all the rest of the living creatures in his hand and under 
his dominion, that he should not only privately, but publicly 
also, acknowledge his Creator, should give thanks unto him, 
should offer him some public and external worship, and have a 
certain form and work of obedience. If therefore Adam had 
not fallen, this tree would have been a common temple or 
church, a sure palace to which all might have flocked. 
Thus it was afterwards, when nature was in her fallen and 
corrupt state, the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple 
at Jerusalem were places appointed for divine worship. As 
therefore this "tree" eventually proved to be the cause of so 
awful a fall, it was rightly called by Moses "the tree of the 
knowledge of good and evil," on account of the horrible and 
miserable event which followed. 

Two questions may here be raised as to whether this tree of 
life was one only or whether there were more ; and whether the 
Scripture which here speaks in the singular number should be 
considered as speaking in the plural; just as we, speaking col- 
lectively, use the expression "the pear," "the apple," whereby 
we mean pears and apples generally ; either of those fruits as 
kinds; not individual species or specimens of them. To me it 
appears by no means absurd or out of the way that we should 
understand "the tree of life," as a certain space in the middle of 
paradise, or a certain grove, in which many "trees of life" of 
the same genus or kind grew, and were called by the same 
name, "trees of life." Hence it is probable that a certain grove 
was called collectively "the tree of life," which was a kind of 

genesis 11. 


sacred retreat, in which grew a number of trees of the same 
kind; namely, "trees of the knowledge of good and evil," con- 
cerning which God pronounced his prohibition, that Adam 
should not eat of any of them, and if he did he should surely 
die the death. Not that there was anything in the nature of 
this tree, or of any one of these trees, to cause death ; but such 
was the Word of God pronounced concerning it or them, 
which Word of God was ever attended with its efficacy to all 
creatures ; and the efficacy of which Word still preserves all 
creatures, that they degenerate not nor alter nor fail of their 
original form and intent; that all creatures may be preserved 
in their original form and nature by an infinite propagation ! 

Hence it was that by the Word the rock in the desert gave 
forth its waters in all their abundance, Ex. 17:6, and that 
by the same Word the brazen serpent healed all those that 
looked unto it, Num. 21 -.9. By this same efficacy of the Word 
of God's prohibition, this one tree or this certain species of 
many trees in the middle of paradise killed Adam by his dis- 
obedience to that Word of God; not that the tree itself was 
deadly in its own nature but because it was appointed by the 
Word of God to be so in its effects. In the same way also are 
we to understand the nature of the tree of life, of which God 
commanded Adam to eat as often as he needed to restore his 
powers. It was by the Word of God that the tree of life pro- 
duced that restoration. 

To reason indeed it seems absurd, that one apple could have 
such deadly properties or produce such deadly effects as to de- 
stroy the whole human race throughout its almost infinite suc- 
cession ; and that too with a death eternal. But this was not 
the nature or the effect of the apple in itself. Adam did indeed 
force his teeth into the apple, but his teeth struck in reality 
upon the sting in the apple, which sting was the prohibition of 
God, which made his bite to be disobedience to God. This was 
the real cause of the mighty evil. Adam thus sinned against 
God, disregarded his commandment and obeyed Satan. The 
tree of the knowledge of good and evil was in itself "good," 

1 62 


the tree which bore the most noble fruits. But as the prohi- 
bition of God was attached to it and man disregarded that pro- 
hibition, the tree became the deadliest of all poisons. 

Just in the same manner as God has said, "Thou shalt not 
steal," Ex. 20:15, the man who touches the property of another 
as his own sins against God. So in Egypt when the Jews were 
commanded of God to ask silver from their neighbors and to 
carry it away with them; that was no sin; they were justified 
by the command of God, to whom obedience is due, whatever 
be the issue or result. So also the suitor when he loves a virgin 
and has a strong desire of nature to possess her as his wife and 
marries her, committeth no adultery ; though the Law of God 
forbids coveting and concupiscence. And the great reason is 
this, matrimony is a divine institution and is a command of 
God to them who cannot live chastely without marriage. Just 
the same also is the nature of these two trees. The tree of 
life gives life, by virtue of the Word which promises and or- 
dains that life. "The tree of the knowledge of good and evil" 
produces death by virtue of the efficacy of the Word which pro- 
hibits the eating of it on the penalty of death in case of disobe- 

This latter tree however is caned "the tree of the knowledge 
of good and evil," Augustine says, because after Adam had 
sinned by eating of it he not only saw and experienced what 
good he had lost, but also into what evil and misery he had 
been hurled by his disobedience. The tree therefore was in 
itself "good," even as the divine commandment attached to it 
was "good ;" that it should be to Adam a tree of divine worship, 
by which he should prove his obedience to God, even by an ex- 
ternal act of service to him. But by reason of the sin which 
followed, the same tree became the tree of the curse. Moses 
now by digressing a little proceeds to give a more extensive 
description of the original "garden 1" 

V. 10. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; 
and front thence it zvas parted, and became four heads. 

Here again the Latin version is in error, when it makes the 



proper name, Eden, an appellative. And here Origen and his 
followers are to be condemned who have recourse in their 
usual way to allegories. For the things here recorded by 
Moses as history, are facts. There actually was a great river 
in Eden, by which the whole garden was watered. That river 
rising from the east of the garden divided itself into four 
streams, that no part of the garden might remain unwatered. 
For, as I have before observed, we are here to have in mind a 
large space or portion of the earth ; because this garden was 
so constituted that it might be, as to its original design, an ap- 
propriate and perpetual habitation for Adam and his whole 
posterity, which was equally designed to be most extensive. 

Vs. 11, 12. The name of one is Pishon; that is it which 
compasseth the whole land of Hawlah, -where there is gold; and 
the gold of that land is good; there is bdellium and the 'onyx 

This is one of the most difficult passages in the writings of 
Moses, and one which has given rise to the greatest offense in 
unholy minds. For the real state of the facts recorded, as they 
are now before our eyes, cannot be denied. The description 
here given by the sacred historian applies properly to India, 
which he here calls "Havilah," through which the river Pishon^ 
or the Ganges, flows. The other three rivers Gihon, Hiddekel 
and Phrath; that is, the Nile, the Tigris and the Euphrates are 
also well known ; and it is equally well known that the Nile and 
the last two rivers have their sources very distant from each 
other. The great question therefore that naturally arises is, 
since the whole world well knows how far distant these rivers 
are from each other, how can the account of Moses be recon- 
ciled with the facts, when he says that all these rivers issued 
from one fountain ; that is, that they flowed from one source in 
the garden of Eden toward the east? For with respect to the 
Nile, although its source is unknown, yet the arguments and 
proofs are plain that it flows from a region in the south. 
Whereas it is quite certain that the Ganges and the Tigris and 
the Euphrates flow from the north ; sources in the entirely op~ 



posite direction. 

The account of Moses therefore militates against sense and 
fact as they now are. This state of things has given occasion 
to many to form conjectures that Eden was the whole world. 
Though such conjectures are certainly false, yet they would 
not of themselves, even if true, reconcile the statements of 
Moses, nor make all plain when he here says that the source of 
all these rivers was one and the same. And although it is very 
probable that if Adam had remained in his innocence and his 
posterity had greatly multiplied in that state of innocency, 
God would have enlarged this garden correspondency ; yet 
even that consideration would not justify the supposition that 
Eden was the whole earth originally ; for the sacred text most 
plainly separates Eden from all the rest of the earth. What 
shall we say therefore concerning this passage of Moses, con- 
trary as it is to sense and experience, as things now are, and 
on that account so liable to cause offense being taken; espe- 
cially since Origen and others have built upon it so many mar- 
velous and absurd fables? Some commentators pretend that 
there is no difficulty at all nor any liability to offense being tak- 
en ; and therefore they walk dryshod as it were over this deep 
sea. Such lack of candor however is also highly unbecoming. 
a commentator. 

My opinion on the matter, which indeed I have already 
given, is that paradise, which was very soon closed against 
man on account of sin, and afterwards totally destroyed and 
swept from the earth by the Flood, left not one trace or vestige 
of its original state remaining, which can now be discovered. 
I fully believe, as I have before stated, that paradise did exist 
after the fall of Adam, and that it was known to his posterity; 
but that it was inaccessible to them on account of the protection 
of the angel, who as the text informs us guarded Eden with a 
flaming sword. The awful Deluge however destroyed all 
things. By which also, as it is written, "All the fountains of 
the great deep were broken up," Gen. 7:11. 

Who can doubt therefore that the fountains of these rivers 


were also broken up and confounded? As therefore since the 
Flood mountains exist where fields and fruitful plains before 
flourished, so there can be no doubt that fountains and sources 
of rivers are now found where none existed before and where 
the state of nature had been quite the contrary. For the whole 
face of nature was changed by that mighty convulsion. Nor 
do I entertain the least doubt that all those wonders of nature 
which are from time to time discovered, are the effects and 
relics of that same awful visitation, the Deluge. In the metallic 
mines which are now explored arc found large logs of wood, 
hardened into stone; and in masses of stone themselves are 
perceived various forms of fishes and other animals. With 
the same confidence I also believe that the Mediterranean sea 
before the Deluge was not within the land. My persuasion is 
that the position which it now occupies was formed by the 
effects of the terrible Flood. So also the space now occupied 
by the Red Sea was doubtless before a fruitful field, and most 
probably some portion of this very garden. In like manner, 
those other large bays, the Gulf of Persia, the gulf of Arabia' 
etc., as they now exist, are relic effects of the Deluge. 

Wherefore we are by no means to suppose that the original 
source of the rivers, of which we are now speaking, was the 
same as it is today. But as the earth still exists and brings 
forth trees and their fruits, etc., and yet these, if compared 
with those in their original and incorrupt state, are but miser- 
able remnants as it were of those former riches which the 
earth produced when first created, so these rivers remain as 
relics only of those former noble streams ; but certainly not in 
their primitive position ; much less flowing from their original 
sources. In the same manner, how much excellency has per- 
ished from our bodies by sin ! Wherefore the sum of the mat- 
ter under discussion is that we must speak of the whole nature 
since its corruption, as an entirely altered face of things; a 
face which nature has assumed, first by means of sin, and sec- 
ondly by the awful effects of the universal Deluge. 

Nor has God ceased to act still in the same way. When lie 

1 66 


punishes sins he still curses at the same time the earth also. 
Thus in the prophet Zephaniah, God threatens that he will con- 
sume the fowls of the air and the fishes of the sea, Zeph. 1 13. 
Hence the fact is that many of our rivers have in this age a far 
less number of fishes than in the memory of our forefathers. 
The birds also are much fewer in number than they once were, 
etc. God threatens also, Is, 13, that He will punish in this same 
way the sins of Babylon. For when men are taken away by 
God's judgments the beasts of the earth also disappear and 
monsters and destroying wild beasts alone remain, Is. 13:21, 
22. For example Canaan was one of the most fruitful lands ; 
but now it is said to be as it were a mere pickle-tub of unfruit- 
ful saltness, according to the divine threatening in the 107th 
Psalm. If then such calamities are inflicted of God as the pun- 
ishments of the particular sins of nations, what destructions 
and desolations must we consider the universal punishment 
of the Flood to have wrought? 

Let no one be offended therefore at Moses saying that four 
rivers, which are at this day widely distant from each other 
and have now different fountains, flowed from one source in 
the garden of Eden. For as I have here repeatedly observed 
we are not to think that the form of the world now is the same 
as it was before the sin of Adam. Origen was indeed of this 
opinion himself, and yet he turned aside to the vainest allegor- 

The Nile indeed exists to this day, so does the Ganges. 
But as Virgil says concerning the destruction of Troy, "A 
cornfield now flourishes where Troy once stood," so if any 
one had seen the Nile and the other great rivers mentioned by 
Moses in their primitive beauty and glory he would have be- 
held them to be far different from what they are now. For 
not only are their sources altered, but their qualities and their 
courses are also changed; just as all other creatures are also 
deformed and corrupted. Hence it is that Peter affirms "That 
the heaven must receive Christ until the times of the restitu- 
tion of all things," Acts 3 -.21, For Peter here intimates, that 


I6 7 

which Paul also testifies, that the whole creation was subjected 
to vanity, Rom. 8:20, and that the restitution of all things is 
to be hoped for; the restitution not of man only, but of the 
heaven and the earth, of the sun and of the moon, etc. 

My answer therefore to all questioners upon the passage be- 
fore us is : There is the Nile, there is the Ganges and there are 
other rivers still in existence ; but they are not now such as 
they once were ; they are not only confounded with respect to 
their sources, but altered as to their qualities also. In the same 
manner also man has indeed feet, eyes and cars, just as they 
were created and formed in paradise ; but all these same mem- 
bers are miserably corrupted and marred by sin. Adam before 
his sin had eyes the most bright, a smell of body the most 
pure, refined, delicate and grateful ; a body the most perfectly 
adapted to generation and to every purpose intended of God 
without the least let, hindrance or obstruction in the perform- 
ance of those purposes as services in obedience to God. Hut 
how far removed from all this aptitude, this service and this 
natural vigor are all our members now ! Just the same is the 
present nature of these rivers and of the whole creation if 
compared with its original state and condition. 

Let us look therefore in hope and faith for the "restitution of 
all things;" not of the soul only, but of the body also ; believing 
that we shall have in that day a body better and more noble 
even than it was when first created in paradise. For \vc shall 
not then be placed in a state of animal life, subject by its nature 
to alteration and change; but in the state and enjoyment of a 
spiritual life; that life, into which Adam would have been 
translated, if he had lived without sin. Into the hope of this 
life Christ brings us by the remission of sins; and thereby 
makes our condition better and higher than Adam enjoyed, 
but lost in paradise. 

The Hebrew verb sab, which Moses here uses, has a very 
extensive meaning ; it signifies "to go round," as watchmen go 
their round in a city. Pishon, therefore, or the Ganges is still 
in existence, if yon speak of its mere name and stream; but 



if you consider its fertilizing and fructifying qualities, its 
various other properties and the course of its waters, even the 
remnants of the original noble river are not to be found. 

The land of Havilah is India, situated towards the east. 
This country is celebrated both in the present passage and in 
other places in the Scripture as most rich and abundant in 
every respect. So that at this day the gems and the gold of 
India are considered the most precious and most noble. I be- 
lieve however, according to the phraseology here adopted by 
Moses, that in "the land of Havilah" is included Arabia Felix 
and Other adjacent regions. 

When Moses speaks of bdellium and the onyx stone, I take 
these specimens of gems for gems in general. For we find 
India to abound even at the present day, not only in jewels of 
the description mentioned, but in emeralds, sapphires, rubies, 
garnets, diamonds, etc. ; for I retain their appellations as they 
are now used among us. But here again I would bring back 
your attention to that which I have before stated. Seeing that 
this region is endowed from above with such a rich abundance 
of all things useful and precious ; how much more rich, abun- 
dant, opulent and divinely favored must we conclude it to have 
been in its original state before the sin of the fall ! Its present 
productions and contents can scarcely be called even remnants 
of its former excellency. 

Vs. 13, 14. And the name of the second river is Gihon; the 
same is it which compasseih the whole land of Cush. And the 
■name of the third river is Hiddekel; that is it which goeth to- 
ward the east of Assyria, And the fourth river is the Euphra- 

Moses mentions the three remaining rivers by name only, 
giving no particular descriptions in reference to them. Gihon 
is the Nile. This river, as it runs through all Egypt, takes in 
its course, Cush or Ethiopia also, as well as Egpyt. Hiddekel 
is the Tigris (in Armenia), the most rapid river of all. "The 
fourth is the river Euphrates." As if he had added, the river 
near to us. 



In this passage therefore we have a description of paradise 
with its four rivers. But now it is utterly lost and unknown ; 
and no traces of it exist except these four rivers. And even 
these, first rendered leprous as it were and corrupted and mar- 
red by sin ; and then changed, altered and confounded in their 
sources and in their courses by the mighty Deluge. 

Moses now proceeds to describe how a law was given to 
Adam before Eve was created, so that he might have a mode 
or form of external worship, by which to show his obedience 
and express his gratitude to God. 





I. V. 15. And Jehovah God took the man, and put him 
into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it. 

After God had created and variously adorned the universe 
of heaven and earth, he next prepared the garden of Eden, 
which he willed to be the habitation and royal seat of man, 
to whom he had committed the government over all other liv- 
ing creatures of the earth, the heaven and the sea. And now 
God places man in that garden as in a citadel and a temple, 
from which he had liberty to go out and to walk abroad in any 
other part of the earth, which also was most fruitful and most 
delightful; and there to amuse and delight himself with the 
beasts and other animals when and as he wished. 

And God gives to Adam a two-fold charge that he should 
work or till this garden, and also that he should guard and 
defend it. Some faint vestiges of this original command yet 
remain in these miserable remnants of primitive things, which 
we still possess. For even to this day these two things must 
ever be joined together: not only that the earth should be tilled 
but also that the productions of that cultivation should be de- 
fended. But both these great principles are corrupted and 



marred in an infinite number of forms. For not the tillage of 
the earth itself only but the defense of it also are filled with 
every kind of misery and trouble. And what the cause of all 
this sorrow is will be fully clear to us shortly in the follow- 
ing chapter of this book. For we shall there see that this work- 
ing or tillage of the earth is defiled and embarrassed by thorns, 
by thistles, by the sweat of the brow and by various and un- 
ending misery. For, to say nothing about the labor and sor- 
row of procuring necessary food, what difficulty, what labor 
attend even the bringing up a child from its birth I 

If Adam therefore had remained in his innocency he would 
have cultivated the earth and planted his beds of spices, not 
only without toil or trouble but as an amusement, attended 
with exquisite pleasure. His children when born would not 
long have needed the breast of their mother, but in all probabil- 
ity would have started on their feet, as we now see chickens 
do by nature, and would have sought their own food from the 
fruits of the earth, without the helplessness or weakness and 
without any labor or sorrow of their parents! But now how 
great do we behold to be the pain and misery of our birth, our 
infancy and our growth! 

If we speak of food and the misery attending it, not only 
have beasts the same general produce of the earth, now no 
longer an Eden, which we have ; but men defraud men of the 
same and rob them of it by theft and plunder. Hence hedges 
and walls and other strong defences are found necessary for 
the protection of property ; and even by these the produce, 
we have obtained by the labor and sweat of cultivation, can 
scarcely be preserved in safety. Thus we have indeed a rem- 
nant of the labor of cultivation, but very far different from the 
employ of the original tillage. Not merely because it is at- 
tended with the greatest toil and distress, but because the 
ground itself, being as it were unwilling, yields sparingly; 
whereas to Adam it yielded as it were with the greatest joy 
and with the richest abundance, whether he sowed his seed 
within Eden itself or in any other part of the earth. There was 



then no danger from plunderers and murderers. All was in 
perfect peace and safety. 

In all these respects therefore we can form an idea of the 
mighty evil of sin ; when we behold the thorns, the briers, the 
sweat of the brow, etc., which are before us. Whichever way 
we turn the magnitude of that evil is ever present. Hence man 
did not fall by sin in soul only, but in body also ; and both par- 
ticipate in the punishment. For labor is a punishment, which 
in the state of innocence was an amusement and a pleasure. 
Even as now, in the present state of the misery of nature, if 
any one has a productive garden, neither digging nor sowing 
nor planting is a labor, but a certain devoted employment and 
a delight. What then must have been this employment and de- 
light in the garden of Eden in the state of original innocence 1 
How much more pleasurable and perfect ! 

And here also we may reflect with profit that man was not 
created to idleness, but to labor; no, not even in the state of 
primitive innocence. Wherefore every state of an idle or indo- 
lent life is condemnable ; such for instance as the life of monks 
and nuns. 

As the original labor and employment of man were unat- 
tended with sorrow or distress, as we have shown, so also this 
guarding and protecting of that which he possessed was full of 
pleasure and delight; whereas now all such protection is full 
of labor and peril. Adam could have stopped or driven away 
even bears and lions by one single word. We have now indeed 
our means of defense, but they are truly horrible ; for we can- 
not do without swords and spears, and cannon, and walls, and 
ramparts, and castle-fosses, etc. ; and even with all these we 
and our loved ones scarcely abide in safety. Hence we have 
scarcely the feeblest traces remaining either of the original 
work or the original protection. 

Others expound this passage differently, making it to mean, 
"that God might till and keep it." But the text speaks of 
human "tilling" and human "keeping" absolutely. So Cain 
just helow, Gen. 4:2, is said to have been "a tiller of the 



ground." And in Job and Ecclesiastes kings are called tillers 
of the earth or husbandmen; not merely on account of their 
labor itself in tillage, but an account of their guardianship and 
protection. But as I have all along said, labor and protection 
are now hard and difficult terms? But originally they were 
terms denoting a certain delightful employment and exquisite 

II. Ver. 16, 17a. And Jehovah God commanded the man, 
saying. Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but 
of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat 
of it. 

Here we have the institution of the church before there was 
any domestic government (oeconomia) or civil government 
(politia). For Eve was not yet created. And the church is 
here instituted without any walls or any pomp ; in a place all 
open and most delightful. After the church was instituted 
domestic government (oeconomia) is established, when Eve 
is brought to Adam as his life-companion- Thus we have at 
God's hand a church before a private house; the former of 
which indeed is greater and better than the latter. 

And as to civil government (politia) ; before sin there was 
none ; nor was it needed. For civil government is a necessary 
remedy for corrupt nature. Because the lust of men must be 
curbed by the chains and penalties of the laws, that it trans- 
gress not all bounds. Wherefore we may properly term polity, 
or civil government, the established "kingdom over sin," just 
as Paul also calls Moses the minister and the law the "minis- 
tration of sin and of death," 2 Cor. 3 7, 8 ; Rom. 82. For the 
one and special object of civil government is to prevent sin. 
Hence Paul says, "that the power beareth the sword" and is 
"the avenger of evil doings," Rom. 13 4. If therefore, men 
had not become evil by sin there would have been no need 
of civil government ; but Adam would have lived with his pos- 
terity in the greatest joy, peace and safety, and would have 
done more by the motion of one of his fingers than can now be 
effected by all the magistrates, all the swords and all the gal- 

genesis 11. 


lows of a kingdom. There would then have been no ravisher, 
no murderer, no thief, no slanderer, no liar. And therefore 
what need would there have been of civil government, which is 
as it were the sword, the caustic and the terrible medicine, 
which are necessary to cut off and burn out noxious members 
of the state, that its other members may be saved and preserved. 
After the establishment of the church therefore in paradise 
is committed unto Adam the government of his family. The 
church is thus first instituted by God, that he might show by 
this as a sign that man was created to another and a higher 
end than any of the other living creatures. And as the church 
is thus instituted by the Word of God, it is certain that Adam 
was created by an immortal and spiritual life to which he 
would assuredly have been translated and conveyed without 
death after he had lived in Eden and the other parts of the 
earth to his full satiety of life, yet without trouble or distress. 
And in that life there would have been none of that impure 
lust which now prevails. The love of sex for sex would have 
been uncontaminated and pure. Generation would have pro- 
ceeded without any sin or impurity, in a holy obedience unto 
God. Mothers would have brought forth children without 
pain, and children themselves would have been brought up 
without any of that misery and labor and distress with which 
they are now always reared. 

But who can find language capable of describing the glory 
of that state of innocency, which we have lost? There cer- 
tainly still remains in nature a desire of the male for the 
female. There also proceed the fruits of generation. But the 
whole is attended with a horrible impurity of lust, and with 
overwhelming pains of parturition. To all this are added tur- 
pitude, shame and confusion even between man and wife when 
they would enjoy their lawful embrace. In a word, even here 
and in all things else, is present the unspeakable awfulness of 
original sin. Creation indeed is "good." The blessing of fruit- 
fulness upon creation is "good." But all these things are cor- 
rupted and spoiled, by sin. So that even man and wife can- 



not enjoy them without shame and confusion of face. Where- 
as none of these things would have had existence if the inno- 
cency of Adam had continued. But as husbands and wives 
eat and drink together without any shame; so there would 
have been a singular and heavenly purity without any shame 
or confusion of feeling, either in generation or in parturition. 
But I return to Moses. 

The church was originally instituted, as I have observed, be- 
fore there was any house or family or domestic government. 
For the Lord, we here find, preaches to Adam and sets before 
him the Word. On that Word, though so short, it highly be- 
comes us here to pause awhile and dwell. For this sermon of 
God to Adam would have been to him and to us all, his poster- 
ity, had we continued in the original innocence, a whole Bible 
as it were. And did we, or could we, possess that sermon now 
we should have no need of paper, ink and pens, nor of that in- 
finite multitude of books, which we now require to teach us 
knowledge and wisdom. The whole contents of these books 
put together, could we grasp them in our minds, would not put 
us in possession of one-thousandth part of that wisdom, which 
Adam possessed in paradise. Could we attain to the sum of all 
the wisdom in all the world, this short sermon would swallow 
up and overflow the whole. It would show us in all plainness 
and fullness, as if painted on a tablet, that infinite goodness of 
God which created this nature of ours pure, holy and perfect; 
and it would show us with equal plainness all those impurities, 
calamities and sorrows, which have since overwhelmed us by 
the inbursting of sin. 

Since therefore, as the text shows, Adam alone heard this 
sermon from God, it must have been preached to him on the 
sixth day, and Adam must have afterwards communicated it 
to Eve on the same day. And if they had not sinned Adam 
would have set this remarkable sermon or precept before his 
whole posterity also; and by it they would have become the 
most profound divines, the most learned lawyers and the most 
experienced physicians. Now there exists an infinite number 



of books by which men are trained to be theologians, lawyers 
and physicians. But all the knowledge we can obtain by the 
help of all these books together can scarcely be called the dregs 
of science, if compared with that fund of wisdom which Adam 
drew from this one sermon of God. So utterly corrupted arc 
all things by original sin. 

This "tree of the knowledge of good and evil," therefore, 
or this place in which a number of trees like unto it were plant- 
ed, would have been, as we have said, a church, where Adam 
and his posterity, had he and they continued in their innocency, 
would have assembled on the Sabbath day; and Adam, after 
refreshment derived from the "tree of life," would have 
preached God to those assembled, and would have praised him 
for the dominion which he had given them over all other crea- 
tures he had made. The 148th and 149th Psalms set forth a 
certain form of such praise and thanksgiving, where the sun, 
the moon, the stars, the fishes and the dragons are called upon 
to praise the Lord. But there is no one psalm so beautiful, but 
that any one of us might compose one far more excellent and 
more perfect, if we had been born of the seed of Adam in his 
state of original innocence. Adam would have preached that 
highest of all blessings, that he had been created in and that 
his posterity bore the image and the similitude of God. He 
would have exhorted them all to live a holy life without sin, 
to till the garden in which God had placed them with all 
industry, to keep it with all diligence, and to guard with all 
caution against tasting the fruit of the "tree of the knowledge 
of good and evil," This external place, form, worship and 
preaching of the Word, man would most certainly" have ob- 
served on the Sabbath. Afterwards he would have returned to 
his duties of laboring and guarding until the time appointed of 
God had been fulfilled, in which he ohould be translated with- 
out any death and with all sweetness to heaven. 

We must now speak of all these blessings however as a lost 
treasure, and we are deservedly left to sigh for that day, when 
all these things shall be restored. It is nevertheless most profit- 



able to remember the blessings we have lost, and to feel the 
evils we suffer and in the midst of which we live, in so much 
wretchedness that we may be thereby stirred to look for that 
redemption of our bodies, of which the apostle speaks, Rom. 
8:23. For as to our souls we are already freed and delivered 
by Christ ; and we hold that deliverance in faith until the "end 
of our faith" shall be revealed, 1 Pet. 1 :io. 

It is moreoever very profitable to consider from this text that 
God gave unto Adam a Word, a worship and a religion, the 
most simple, most pure and most disencumbered of all labor- 
ious forms and sumptuous appearance. For God did not com- 
mand the sacrificing of oxen, nor the burning of incense, nor 
long and loud prayers, nor any other afflictions or wearyings of 
the body. All that he willed was, that Adam should praise 
him, should give him thanks, and should rejoice in him as the 
Lord his God; obeying him in this one great thing that he ate 
not the fruit of the forbidden tree. 

Of this worship we have indeed some remnants restored to us 
in a certain measure by Christ, even amidst all this infirmity 
of our flesh. We also are enabled to praise God and to give 
him thanks for every blessing of the soul and of the body. But 
too true it is, that these are but very remnants of the original 
worship of Eden. But when, after this miserable life, we shall 
come among the company of angels, we shall then offer unto 
God a purer and holier worship. And there are also other rem- 
nants of this original felicity still vouchsafed unto us ; that by 
the blessing of marriage we avoid and prevent adulteries ; that 
this corporeal life has not only food, though procured with in- 
finite labor, but a protection and a defense of that which we 
possess, secured unto us against all the evils and dangers which 
surround us on every side. These are indeed merciful rem- 
nants, still they are but miserable remnants if compared with 
the original blessedness and security. 

Moreover, brethren, ye are here to be admonished against 
false prophets, through whom Satan endeavors by various 
means to corrupt sound doctrine. I will give you an example 



of this in my own case, and just show you how 1 was torment- 
ed by a fanatical spirit when I first began to preach this doc- 
trine, which I am now setting forth in my Comments on the 
passage before us. The text indeed uses a Hebrew verb sig- 
nifying "to command;" "And Jehovah God commanded the 
man." Yet this agent of Satan argued, and drew his conclu- 
sion thus: — "The Law is not made for a righteous man." 
Adam was a righteous man ; therefore, the Law was not made 
for Adam ; because, he was a righteous man. Upon this argu- 
ment he immediately pinned another ; that this sermon of God 
therefore was not a law but an admonition only ; and that, con- 
sequently, "where there was no law there was, as Paul affirms, 
no transgression." And from this argument, that "where there 
is no law there is no transgression," he crept on to the con- 
clusion, therefore, there was no original sin; the truth of 
which doctrine he consequently denied. By thus connecting 
together these two passages of Scripture he gained, as he con- 
sidered, a marvelous victory, and he publicly displayed his 
triumph as if he had discovered a treasure hitherto unknown 
to the world. Now it is profitable thus to mark the mighty 
attempts of Satan, that we may learn to meet them with wis- 
dom and skill. 

Both the above passages, that the "Law is not made for a 
righteous man ;" and that "where there is no law there is no 
transgression" are found in the Epistles of Paul, 1 Tim. 1 :o,, 
and Rom. 4:15. And it is the business of a sound and skillful 
logician in divine things, to mark carefully the aims and the 
devices of the devil ; because our sophistical reasoners, his 
miserable slaves, use them after him. They pretend indeed to 
found their arguments on Scripture. For they know that it 
would appear perfectly ridiculous to thrust upon men's minds 
nothing but their own dreams. But they do not cite Scripture 
wholly and honestly; they seize upon those parts of it only 
which seem at first to make for them ; but those portions which 
stand against them, they either craftily pass over or corrupt by 
cunningly devised interpretations. 



Thus when Satan found that Christ trusted in the mercy 
of God under his great hunger, he attempted to draw him 
into a forbidden confidence, Math. 4 13, 4. And again, in the 
matter of his standing on the pinnacle of the Temple, the 
devil tried to make him tempt God ; by quoting to him a pas- 
sage seemingly adopted for his purpose, Ps. 91 :il-i2, "He shall 
give his angels charge concerning thee; and in their hands they 
shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against 
a stone." 

Now that portion of the passage in the psalm, which was 
contrary to his purpose, Satan craftily passed over, "to keep 
thcc, in all thy ways." Here lies the whole force of this Scrip- 
ture, that diis guardianship of angels is promised to us "in all 
our ways" or "in our lawful calling" only. Christ in all divine 
wisdom sets before Satan this as the true meaning of the sacred 
text, when he replies to his face in this precept, "Thou shalt 
not tempt the Lord thy God." By this Christ signifies that 
the "way" of man is not in the air, but that was the "way" of 
the flying fowls ; but that the "way"of man was the steps which 
led from the roof of the temple to the ground ; and which were 
made for the end that there might be a descent from the top 
of the temple to the bottom, easy and without peril. When 
therefore we are in our lawful calling and duty, whether that 
duty be commanded of God or of men, which latter have a 
right to prescribe the duty of our calling, while we are thus "in 
our ways," then we may assuredly believe the guardianship of 
angels win not fail us. 

The above example therefore will furnish a very useful rule 
to be observed in our disputations with these fanatical tools of 
Satan. For those who arc not on their guard are often de- 
ceived when crafty men transfer their arguments, after their 
own manner, from connected to unconnected portions of the 
Scripture ; or adopt dishonest connections or divisions of the 
sacred text ; but adduce not passages in their integral state as 
they stand in the Word. Now this is the very method adopted 
in the present case by my adversary, when he argues as above 



from these two detached portions, "That law is not made for 
a righteous man," and "Where there is no law, there is no 
transgression." He who is not on the watch-tower of wisdom 
and caution here is entangled before he is aware of it, and 
drawn into the horrible conclusion, that there was no real sin 
in eating the first apple; because, as our crafty opponents 
would argue, there was no law ; and, as they further argue, 
which is indeed true in itself, because "where there is no law 
there is no transgression." 

And I am by no means certain that some even in our day 
have not been deceived by this very argument of the devil. For 
they so speak of original sin as to make it not a sin itself, but a 
punishment of sin only. Hence Erasmus, discussing this point 
with his famous eloquence, observes, "Original sin is a punish- 
ment, inflicted on our first parents, which we their posterity 
are compelled to bear for another's fault, without any desert 
of our own. Just as the son of an harlot is forced to endure 
the infamy, not by his own fault but by that of his mother. 
For what sin could any man commit who had as yet no ex- 
istence?" These sentiments flatter human reason, but they are 
full of impiety and blasphemy. 

Wherein then is the syllogism of our crafty adversary un- 
sound? It is because, according to Satan's common artifice, 
the text on which it is founded is not quoted entirely, but most 
perfidiously mutilated. For the whole text stands thus, "The 
law is not made for a righteous man, but for murderers, for 
adulterers," etc., etc. Wherefore nothing can be more evident, 
nothing else can be concluded than that the apostle Paul is here 
speaking of that Law which God revealed unto man after sin 
was in the world; not of that law, which the Lord gave unto 
Adam in paradise, while he was yet righteous and innocent. 
The Law, says Paul, "was not made for a righteous man;" 
wherefore it insubvertibly follows, that the Law of which Paul 
speaks was given to nature, when not innocent, but sinning 
and liable to sin. 

Is it not then the height of wickedness thus to confound 



passages of Scripture in causes of such solemn moment? 
Adam after his sin was not the same as he was before, when 
in his state of innocency. And yet these men make no dif- 
ference between the law delivered to man before sin and the 
Law delivered to man after sin. But what the apostle says 
concerning the Law, which was delivered to the world after 
it was filled with sin, these instruments of Satan, lyingly and 
with the greatest blasphemy, transfer and apply to the law, de- 
livered to Adam in paradise. Whereas, if no sin had existed 
the law prohibiting sin would not have existed. For as I have 
said above, civil government and laws, or cauteries, and the 
sword, and the "schoolmaster," as Paul terms "the Law," 
would not have been needed in a state of innocent nature. But 
the boy because he is now bad needs the "schoolmaster" and 
the rod. So the prince, because he has disobedient citizens, 
equally needs the crown-officer and the executioner. It is of 
this law that Paul is really speaking; the law which nature 
when corrupted by sin needed. 

With respect to the need which Adam had of this command- 
ment of God concerning the "tree of the knowledge of good 
and evil," I have shown that need above. It was that Adam 
might have a settled external worship of God and a work of 
external obedience towards him to perform statedly. Thus the 
angel Gabriel is without sin, a creature most pure and innocent, 
and yet he received a commandment from God to inform Dan- 
iel concerning things of the utmost importance, and to an- 
nounce to the virgin Mary that she was to be the mother of 
Christ promised to the fathers. These are positive command- 
ments, given to a creature perfectly innocent. 

In the same manner there is here a commandment given of 
the Lord to Adam before his sin that he should not eat of the 
"tree of the knowledge of good and evil," which commandment 
Adam would have fulfilled willingly and with the highest 
pleasure, had he not been deceived by the craft of Satan. But 
Paul is referring to quite another law ; for he is plainly speak- 
ing of a law which was given, not to the righteous, but to the 



unrighteous. Who is there, then, so stupid or so insane, who 
will after all conclude that a law was not given to Adam be- 
cause he hears us affirm that Adam was a righteous man? For 
no other conclusion can follow than that the law, which was. 
made for the unrighteous, was not the law that was given to 
the righteous Adam ; and on the converse it must follow that as 
a law was given to righteous Adam, that law was not the same 
as the law which was afterwards made for the unrighteous. 

There is therefore in this syllogism or argument of our ad- 
versary, the two-fold unsoundness of unjust connection and 
unjust division. There is in it moreover a double equivoca- 
tion. The first is in not making it plain that the law before sin 
is one thing, and the law after sin another. And in the second 
place, the equivocation lies in not making it equally plain, that 
the righteous man before sin and the righteous man after sin 
are each righteous, but in a different sense; that the one is 
righteous bv nature the other by new-creation and justifica- 

It is most useful to examine thus the arguments and reason- 
ings of our adversaries, and in this manner to apply the science 
of sound logic to good purpose in these momentous discussions. 
For the arts of logic were not seriously intended to be used in 
the dead disputation of the school only ; but that the gravest 
and most sacred subjects might by them be soundly explained 
and taught. And it is by the very false reasoning now in ques- 
tion, that Satan does a great deal of business in denying orig- 
inal sin. Whereas to deny original sin, is to deny virtually the 
passion and resurrection of Christ. 

Let the passage of the apostle Paul therefore, i Tim. I :g, 
hinder us not from determining with Moses in the text now 
before us, that a law was here commanded of God to Adam 
though a righteous man, "That he should not eat of the tree 
of the knowledge of good and evil," in the same way as com- 
mandments were also given to angels. And because Adam 
transgressed this commandment he sinned, and begat and 
propagated his children after him also sinners. 



III. V. 17b. For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou surely die. 

This penal also thus expressly added proves that it 
was a law, not an admonition, that was given to Adam. And 
it moreover shows that Adam was created in a state of inno- 
cence and righteousness. For as yet there was no sin in exist- 
ence Clod did not create sin. If Adam therefore had 
obeyed this command lie would never have died, for death 
entered into the world by sin. All the rest of the trees of para- 
dise therefore were created to the end that they might aid and 
preserve unto man his animal life, sound and whole, and with- 
out the least evil or inconvenience. 

Now it naturally appears wonderful to us at this day, that 
there should have been an animal life without any death and 
without any evils or accidental causes of death, which now 
abound, such as diseases, boils and fetid redundancies, in 
bodies, etc., etc. The reason is that no part of the body in the 
state of innocency was foul or impure. There was no unpleas- 
antness in the evacuations or secretions. There were no im- 
purities whatever. Everything was most beautiful and delight- 
ful. There was no offense to any of the organs or senses. And 
yet the life was an animal life. Adam ate, digested, performed 
the functions of, and managed and regulated, his body. And 
had he continued in his innocence he would have done all these 
and other things the animal life does and requires, until he 
had been translated to the spiritual and eternal life. 

For this deathless translation also we have lost by sin. And 
now, between this present and a future life, there exists that 
awful medium passage, death. That passage, in the state of 
innocence, would have been most delightful ; and by it Adam 
would have been translated to the spiritual life, or as Christ 
calls it in the Gospel, the life "as the angels in heaven," Math. 
12 :25 ; in which state all animal actions cease. For in the res- 
urrection we shall neither eat nor drink nor are given in mar- 
riage. So with respect to Adam, all animality would have 
ceased and a spiritual life in glory would have followed ; even 



as we also believe it will be with us "in the resurrection" 
through Christ. So also Adam would have put off his child- 
hood glory of innocence, if I may so term his natural life of 
innocency, and would have put on his heavenly glory. He 
would have done with all inferior actions, which however, in 
that childhood glory of innocency, would have been pure and 
unattended with that sorrow which mars all things since the 
fall ; and would have been translated from his infantine glory 
of created innocence, to that manhood of glorious innocence, 
which angels enjoy; and which wc also who believe shall enjoy 
in the life to come. 

I call Adam's primitive, creative innocence the childhood of 
glorious innocency, because Adam, if I ma)' so speak, was in 
a middle state, or a state of neutrality or liability ; in a state 
where he could be deceived by Satan ; and could fall into that 
awful calamity into which he did fall. But such a peril of fall- 
ing will not exist in that state of perfect manhood of glorified 
innocency, which we shall enjoy in the future and spiritual life. 
And this indeed is that which is signified in this threat of pun- 
ishment. "For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt 
surely die." As if the Lord had said, thou mayest remain in- 
deed, if thou obey me, in this life, in which I have created thee ; 
yet thou wilt not even then, be immortal, as the angels are. 
It is a life placed as it were in a middle, neutral or liable, state. 
Thou mayest remain in it by obedience, and afterwards be 
translated into an immortality, which cannot be lost. On the 
other hand if thou shalt not obey me, thou shalt fall into death 
and shalt lose that immortality. 

There is a great difference therefore between the created 
spiritual state of angels and the created natural innocency of 
Adam. Angels as they now are cannot fall, but Adam could 
fall ; for Adam was created in a state in which he might become 
immortal, that is, in which he might continue in his original 
innocency without death, for he was free from all sin and stood 
in a condition from which he might be translated out of the 
childhood glory of original innocency into the manhood glory of 



immortality, in which he could never sin afterwards. On the 
other hand, Adam could fall out of this childhood glory of 
natural innocence into sin, the curse and death, as indeed it 
sadly happened. Adam was in a state of natural immortality, 
or which might have been a natural immortality, because he had 
recourse to certain created trees, the virtue of whose fruits 
produced preservation of life. But this natural immortality 
was not so secured to him, as to render it impossible for him 
to fall into mortality. 

Why God willed to create man in this middle, neutral or 
liable state is not for us to explain or curiously to inquire. 
Equally impossible is it for us to say and unlawful to ask, why 
man was so created that all mankind should be propagated 
from one man by generation, while angels were not so created. 
For angels generate not nor are propagated, because they live 
a spiritual life ; but the counsel of God in the creation of man is 
worthy the highest admiration, in that he created him to an 
animal life and to corporeal actions, which also the other ani- 
mals have, and gave him also a power of intellect, which indeed 
the angels also possess. So that man is a compound being, in 
whom are united the brute and the angelic natures. 

Moreover, as we have here come to consider the nature of 
angels, we must not keep back the written opinions of some of 
the fathers, that there is a certain similarity between the crea- 
tion of man and that of angels. This similarity however cannot 
be extended to the properties of generation, which in the spirit- 
ual nature has no existence, but to the imperfection that sub- 
sisted in each nature as to liability to fall. For since man, as I 
have shown, was created in a kind of a middle, or liable or 
pendent state, so also angels when first created were not so 
confirmed in their natural standing that they could not fall. 
Hence it is that Christ says concerning the devil, that he "abode 
not in the truth," John 8:44. On these grounds the holy 
fathers supposed that a battle or sedition arose between the 
angels, some of those beings taking the part of some very 
beautiful angel, who exalted himself above all the rest on ac- 

genesis 11. 


count of certain superior gifts bestowed upon him. These 
things are very probable nor are they at variance with that 
which Christ here affirms by the Evangelist John, that the devil 
"abode not in the truth;" nor are they inconsistent with that 
which Jude also affirms in his epistle, that the angels "kept 
not their first estate, but left their own habitation," Jude 6. 

In confirmation of these sentiments, the fathers adduce the 
passage, Is. 14:12, 13. But with reference to Isaiah, he is 
evidently speaking of the king of Babylon, who wished to sit 
in the throne of God, that is, to rule over his holy people and 
his temple. 

Whether, therefore, there really was this dissension and war 
among the angels, or whether, which is more agreeable to my 
views, certain proud angels, filled with envy and taking offense 
at the humility of the Sou of God, wished to exalt themselves 
above him, it is quite certain that the angels also like man were 
in such a state of innocence as could be altered. After the evil 
angels however had been judged and condemned, the good 
angels were so confirmed in their standing that they could not 
sin after that confirmation, for they were all elect angels, but 
the reprobate angels were cast out. 

So also, if the great dragon, or the evil angels, mentioned in 
Revelations, had continued in their innocence, they also would 
afterwards have been confirmed therein and could never have 
fallen. The fathers, speaking on this subject, hold that the 
elect angels were created in righteousness and were afterwards 
confirmed therein; but that those who fell, "abode not in the 
truth," John 8:44. But we are not to think that the angels 
are few in number, for Christ affirms, Luke 11 :i8, that Satan 
has a kingdom, and that he is as the chief one among robbers 
and governs all things in his kingdom by his authority and 
counsels; and it is also said, in the same chapter that the devils 
or evil angels have their prince Beelzebub, who was at the head 
of this sedition in heaven. 

But there has arisen a question here, in the discussion of 
which the books of all the sophists are idly employed, and after 

1 86 


all they explain nothing. The question to which I allude is, 
"What was original righteousness?" Some make it a certain 
quality, others give different definitions. We however follow- 
ing Moses, will define original righteousness to be so termed, 
because man was originally created righteous, true and upright ; 
not in body only, but especially in soul, and because he ac- 
knowledged God ; because lie obeyed him with the utmost 
pleasure : because he understood the works of God without any 
instruction concerning them. This last faculty of Adam is 
wonderfully exemplified by the fact, that when he had been in 
a profound sleep and God had formed Eve out of one of his 
ribs, the moment he awoke he recognized Eve as the work of 
God, saying "This is now bone of my bones." Was not this 
a marvelous proof of intellect, thus at the first sight to know 
and comprehend the work of God? 

From this same original righteousness also it arose that 
Adam loved God and his works with all purity of affection ; that 
he lived among the creatures of God in peace without any fear 
of death or any dread of disease, and that he enjoyed a body also 
the most obedient to the will of God, without any evil desires 
and utterly free from that impure lust, which we continually 
feel. So that a most beautiful and most certain picture of 
original righteousness may be portrayed from its entire contrast 
to that deep corruption, which we now feel throughout our 
whole nature. 

When human reasoners speak of original sin, they consider 
only its wretched and unclean lust or concupiscence. But or- 
iginal sin is in truth the entire fall of the whole human nature. 
The intellect is so darkened that we can no longer understand 
God and his will, nor perceive nor acknowledge the works of 
God. Moreover the will is so wonderfully depraved that we 
cannot trust in the mercy of God nor fear God, but living in 
security and unconcern, we disregard the Word of God and his 
will and follow the concupiscence and violent lusts of the flesh. 
The conscience also is no longer at peace and in quiet, and 
when it thinks of the judgments of God it sinks into despair,and 



seeks and follows after unlawful supports and remedies. And 
all these sins are so deeply rooted in our nature that they can- 
not be entirely eradicated through our whole life. And yet 
these miserable sophistical reasoners do not touch upon these 
deep corruptions even in word. But by taking this true view 
of original sin, it clearly demonstrate,';, according to the nature 
of correlative proofs, what original sin really was by its awful 
contrariety to that original righteousness. Thus it is evident 
that original sin is the essential and entire loss and deprivation 
and absence of original righteousness; just as blindness is the 
privation or absence of sight. 

Yes ! the divine matters of original sin and original righteous- 
ness extend much more widely and deeply than is imagined by 
the monks, who understand original righteousness only as it 
refers to sexual chastity. Whereas they ought first to look at 
the soul of man as the seat of all sin and corruption and then 
turn to the body, and view it as deriving all its defilement and 
pollution from the soul. With reference to the soul the great 
proof of its fallen state under original sin is, that we have lost 
the knowledge of God; that we do not always and everywhere 
give thanks unto him ; that wc do not rejoice in the works of 
his hands and all his doings; that we do not wholly trust in 
him ; that we begin to hate and blaspheme him whenever he 
visits our sins with deserved punishments ; that in our dealings 
with our neighbor we follow our own interests, desires and ob- 
jects, and are plunderers, thieves, adulterers, murderers, cruel, 
unkind, unmerciful. The ragings of lust are indeed a certain 
part of original sin, but those sins and corruptions of the soul, 
unbelief, ignorance of God, despair, hatred, blasphemy, of 
which calamities of the soul Adam knew nothing in his state 
of innocence. 

And in addition to these reflections, the numberless punish- 
ments of original sin are to be contemplated. For whatever is 
now lost of those endowments with which Adam was created 
and gifted, while his nature was yet unfallen, is rightly con- 
sidered the consequence of original sin. Adam for instance 

1 88 


was of a most perfect and sagacious intellect. For the moment 
that Eve was presented to him he understood that she was his 
own flesh. He had also the most minute knowledge of all the 
other creatures. He was not only just and upright, but of a 
most perfect and wonderful understanding in all things. He 
had moreover a most upright will, yet not a perfect will ; for 
perfection itself was deferred from the state of the animal life 
to that of the spiritual and eternal life. Let these comments 
suffice upon the sacred text before us, Vs. 16 and 17, in which 
the church is constituted. Moses now proceeds to marriage 
and domestic government (oecotwmia). 


V. 18. And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man 
should be alone; I mill make him an helpmeet for him (which 
may be before him). 

We have just seen how the church was constituted by the 
Word and by the establishment of a certain day, place and order 
of worship. For civil government (politia) there was as yet 
no need, while nature was innocent and without sin. Now 
domestic government (oeconomia) is instituted. For God now 
makes the solitary Adam a husband by giving him a wife and 
uniting her to him of whom Adam had need also for the gener- 
ation and multiplication of the human race. And as we have 
observed above with reference to the creation of Adam that 
God created him with deep purpose of mind and counsel, some 
here see that Eve also was created with profound counsel and 
wisdom of design. By all this Moses would show that man was 
a singularly excellent creature and that he partook both of the 
human and the divine natures, of divinity and immortality. 
Man therefore is a more excellent creature than the heaven or 
the earth or any other creature which God made. 

And Moses would also impress us with reference to the 
other part of human nature, namely, woman, that she also was 
created with a peculiar counsel and design of God. And the 
object of Moses in this particular point of his divine instruction 

genesis 11. 


is, to show that this sex also had great concernment, in that 
state of animal but innocent life, in which Adam was created, 
and in that state of a spiritual and eternal life also, which he 
expected. For the female sex was necessary for the generation 
and multiplication of the human race. Hence it follows that 
if the woman had not been deceived by the serpent and had not 
sinned, she would have been in all respects equal to Adam. 
For her now being subject to her husband is the punishment 
laid upon her of God since sin and on account of sin; as are 
also all her other troubles and perils, her labor and pain in 
bringing forth children, with an infinite number of other sor- 
rows. Woman therefore is not now what Eve was at her 
creation. The condition of woman then was inconceivably bet- 
ter and more excellent than now ; she was then in no respect 
whatever inferior to Adam, whether you consider the endow- 
ments of her body or those of her mind. 

But we may here inquire when God says, "It is not good that 
the man should be alone," what is that "good" of which God is 
speaking, seeing that Adam was righteous and had no need 
of the woman as we have, who bear about with us our flesh 
all leprous with sin? My reply is, that God is speaking of a 
common "good," or the good of the species ; not of personal 
good. All personal good Adam already possessed. He en- 
joyed perfect innocency. But the common good of which all 
other animals partook, he possessed not. He could not propa- 
gate his species by generation. Adam was alone. Nor had 
he as yet a companion for that wonderful work of generation 
and the preservation of his species. The "good" therefore here 
divinely expressed, signifies the multiplying of the human race. 
In the same manner also Adam, although innocent and right- 
eous, did not as yet possess that high good to which he was 
created ; namely, a spiritual and glorious immortality, to which 
he would have been translated of God in his appointed time, 
if he had continued in his innocency. The meaning of "good" 
therefore in the text is, that Adam being himself a most beau- 
tiful creature possessed, as far as his own person was con- 



ccrncd, everything he could require. But there was yet want- 
ing to him one thing, the "good" of God's "blessing ;" the gen- 
crating and multiplying of his species ; for he was alone. 

Now, as nature is corrupted by sin, woman is necessary, not 
only for the multiplying of the human race but also for the 
companionship, help and protection of life. For domestic gov- 
ernment needs the ministration of women. Nay, such is our 
wretchedness by the fall of Adam, that, to our shame and sor- 
row be it confessed, we have need of woman as a remedy 
against sin. Wherefore, in contemplating woman, we must 
consider not only the place in domestic government which she 
fills, but the remedy for sin, which God has made her to sup- 
ply; as the apostle Paul says, "To avoid fornication, let every 
man have his own wife," I Cor. 7 :2. And a certain master of 
divine sentiments also eloquently observes, "Marriage was 
instituted in paradise as a duty and an obedience to God ; but 
since the fall it is a remedy also for sin." Wherefore we are 
obliged to adopt a union with this sex to avoid sin. This is in- 
deed a sad and disgraceful confession to make; but it is the 
truth. For there are very few now who take unto themselves 
wives, purely as a duty of obedience to God ; according to his 
original will in the creation of man as male and female 1 

Other animals however have no necessity of this kind. 
Therefore they as a rule come together once in the year only, 
and are contented with that intercourse, as if by this fact they 
said, "We come together as a duty to God!" But it is far 
different with men. They arc compelled to have recourse to 
their union with wives in matrimony to avoid sin. Hence we 
generate and are born in the midst of sins on both sides. For 
our parents do not come together as a pure duty to God, but as 
a remedy also, for the sake of avoiding sin. 

And yet it is by means of this very remedy and by this very 
miserable state of things, that God fulfils his original blessing 
pronounced upon male and female when he created them. And 
thus men, though in sin and with sin, generate and are gen- 
crated. But this would not have been the case in paradise, 



had man continued in the innocency of his original creation. 
Generation in that state would have been a most holy yielding 
of obedience to God, utterly free from that impure lust which 
now exists. And children would have been born in original 
righteousness and rectitude. They would have known God 
immediately at their birth, without any instruction or admoni- 
tion. They would have spoken of his holy name, praised him 
and given him thanks. 

Cut all these glorious thinjgs are now lost. Yet it is profit- 
able to us to think upon them deeply, that we may hold fast 
some sense of the real state in which we now are ; namely, un- 
der all the effects of original sin ; and that we may rightly 
contemplate also the original condition of Adam, a state of per- 
fect righteousness, which state we hope again to enjoy in all its 
blessedness at the "restitution of all things," Acts 3 :2t. 

With respect to the divine expression, "Let ns make," I have 
already observed that Eve was created, as well as Adam, by a 
peculiar counsel of God, in order that it might be manifest that 
she was a partaker wilh him of a better and an immortal life; 
a hope not possessed by any of the other living creatures, who 
live a natural life only without any hope of an eternal life. 

That which the Latin renders "like him" in this passage, is 
in the Hebrew, "which may be before him." God, by this ex- 
pression also, distinguishes the human female from the females 
of all other living creatures, which are not always "before" 
their mates. But woman was expressly created that she might 
be "before" her husband always and everywhere. Even as the 
emperor also calls the life of married persons "an individual 
life." Whereas the brute female requires her mate only once 
in the whole year, and after she has conceived she returns to 
her own kind and takes care of herself. Of her young, which 
were brought forth at any previous time, she takes no care 
whatever. She does not cohabit with her mate always. 

The nature of marriage among mankind however is utterly 
different. There the woman is married by the man thai she 
may be "before him" always and may cohabit with him as one 



flesh. And if Adam had remained in his state of mnocency, 
this individual life or cohabitation of man and wife would have 
been most sweet and delightful. The embrace itself also would 
have been most holy and reverential, and worshipful of God. 
There would have existed none of that impurity and shame 
arising from sin, which now exists. 

Is not this fallen state of man most awful to contemplate'. 
For in its holy reality there was nothing more excellent, noth- 
ing more admirable in all nature, than the fulfilment of the 
divine law of generation. It was an act of obedience to God, 
the highest which man could perform next to praising and 
lauding his glorious name, which obedience Adam and Eve 
rendered unto God in as much holiness and freedom from all 
sin as when they were engaged in acts of praise and adora- 
tion. The fulfilment of this law of nature and of God indeed 
still continues. But how wretched are these present remnants 
of the original innocency! How horribly deformed by sin, 
pollution and baseness of every description. All these things 
are deplorable evidences of nature's original sin. 

For the great and glorious ends of creation there was need 
of the woman as a helpmeet for man. For man alone could 
not generate ; nor could the woman generate alone. As the 
apostle says, neither the man nor the woman "had power over 
their own bodies" for that high end. Hence the loftiest praises 
of each sex are, that the male is the father and the woman the 
mother of the generation of mankind. The wife in this high 
sense also is that helpmeet of the husband. But, as we have 
repeatedly said, if we look at the state of originally-created in- 
nocency, the generation of man has lost all its excellency, its 
pure delight, its holiness and its worshipful obedience to God. 

Moreover in this age and at this day, you may find many 
who wish that they had no children at all born to them. And 
this far more than barbarous inhumanity and enormity is found 
more particularly among princes and nobles, who frequently 
abstain from marriage for the sole reason that they may have 
no posterity. Still more base is the practice found in those 


princes, who suffer themselves to be counselled and persuaded 
not to marry, lest their families should become too large for 
civil purposes. Such men are indeed worthy of having their 
names blotted out from the land of the living, as the punish- 
ment of their contempt of the laws and intents of God. Who 
is there that would not execrate such swine-Hkc monsters as 
these? These inhuman beings however still further manifest 
in many base particulars the nature and depth of original sin. 
Were it not for the consequences of this mighty sin, we should 
all admire the fulfilment of the law of God in generation, us 
one of the highest acts of the obedience and worship of God. 
And we should extol it as one of the greatest gifts of God with 
its due praise and admiration. 

From the above inhuman abuse and contempt of marriage 
have arisen those numerous reproaches of the female sex, which 
celibacy has greatly augmented. Whereas it is one of the 
greatest of his blessings that God has preserved for us women, 
even against the wishes and the wills of such inhuman beings, 
both as a divine means of generation and as a remedy also 
against the sin of fornication. In paradise woman would have 
been indeed a helper in ovir duty and obedience to God, and in 
our fulfilment of his command "to be fruitful and to multiply 
and replenish the earth," Gen, i .28. But now woman is in a 
very great measure a medicine and remedy for sin. So that 
in truth we can now scarcely mention the name of woman 
without shame; most certainly we cannot unite ourselves to 
her without some sense and blush of that shame. The mighty 
cause of all this is original sin. For in paradise the union of 
man and woman would have been wholly free from the thought 
of shame or impurity. The whole union would have been 
looked upon and felt, as a duty of obedience to God, ordained 
by himself and sanctified by the blessings he pronounced upon it. 

The same calamitous state on account of sin rests upon us 
also, even in the midst of all our spiritual gifts. For although 
we may have faith and live in faith, yet we cannot be free from 
doubt, fear and the sensible awe of death. These just punish- 



ments of original sin, our holy fathers in the faith deeply saw 
and felt. That which now follows is as it were a repetition of 
what has preceded, concerning the creation of Adam, by which 
repetition Moses would more conveniently arrive at his in- 
tended description of the manner in which woman was created. 
In reading what follows, therefore, we must consider Adam to 
have been already created. 

V. 19a. Ami out of the ground Jehovah God formed every 
beast of the field, and every bird of the heavens; and brought 
them unto the man to see what he ivould call them. 

As if Moses had said, "God now willed by a certain deep 
and deliberate counsel to create woman. For he saw that every 
other living creature had a helpmeet for generation. Adam 
alone had none. God therefore now brought all the living crea- 
tures of the earth and of the air to Adam, to see what he would 
call them. And when Adam had given to each one its appro- 
priate name, he found no living creature like unto himself as 
an helpmeet for him." 

And here we are again struck with the wonderful knowledge 
and wisdom which Adam possessed. Created as he was in 
innocency, righteousness and knowledge, he beholds all living 
creatures stand before him ; and without any new illumination 
for the purpose, but by the pure properties and excellency of 
his nature alone, he so discerns in a moment the characteristic 
nature of each creature, that he gives it a name exactly descrip- 
tive of its created peculiarities. Well indeed might the "do- 
minion" over all living creatures have been added of God to 
man, to whom he had given such intellectual light as this! 
And this "dominion" which God had conferred on Adam, he 
now ratifies anew by bringing to him all creatures to be named 
according to his judgment. By all this it is further manifest 
that Adam could by one single word compel lions, bears, boars, 
tigers and any other of the noble animals to do any thing 
he wishes, according to their natural properties and pow- 
ers; all which properties he thoroughly understood at a mo- 
ment's glance when he gave them their names. But all these 



original endowments of man are utterly lost by sin. 

No wonder therefore that we have no knowledge of the 
adorable God, when we know nothing as Adam did of the na- 
tures, powers and properties even of the beasts of the earth. 
There exist indeed very many books, which describe the na- 
tures of the beasts and of plants. But what a length of time, 
what an extent of observation and of experience were neces- 
sary to collect the contents of all these volumes! In Adam 
however there was a marvelously different illumination and 
intellect. He discovered by a moment's glance at each living 
creature its whole nature and all its separate faculties and cre- 
ated endowments; and that too with a perfection far above 
that to which we can ever attain by a whole life of devoted 
study and research in natural history. And as this knowledge 
in Adam was a peculiar and eminent gift of God, so was it 
greatly pleasing and delightful to God. And on account of this 
pleasure God brought the living creatures to Adam and com- 
manded him to use the knowledge he had thus given him in 
assigning to each living creature its appropriate name. 

Vs. 19b, 20. And whatsoever the man. called every living 
creature, that was the name thereof. And the man gave names 
to all cattle, and to the birds of the heavens, and to every beast 
of the Held; but for man there was not found a helpmeet for 
him (to be before him). 

What an ocean of knowledge and wisdom there was in this 
one man! And although Adam lost much of this knowledge 
by sin, yet my full belief is that the whole contents of the 
books of all the wise, which have ever been written throughout 
all ages since letters first had birth, have not to this day equal- 
led that wisdom which Adam possessed, even after his sin and 
fall. But all has become obscured by degrees in his posterity 
and is well nigh extinct altogether. 

But we must here again note that Moses is still engaged de- 
scribing the creation-work and the divine transactions of the 
sixth day. For that which he had briefly said in the divine ex- 
pression, "Let us make man," Gen. 1 ;26, he now more fully 



explains in this second chapter, in order that he might distin- 
guish man from all other living creatures by more than one 
recoTded testimony. Wherefore he devotes this whole second 
chapter to a more particular explanation of the creation of 

With reference to the man Moses has already said that he 
was made of the dust of the ground, and that the breath of life 
was breathed of God into his nostrils. He has also stated that 
the whole multitude of living creatures was brought before 
Adam. When Adam had seen among them all no helpmeet 
for him, woman was made to be his companion in the genera- 
tion and preservation of the human species. For God did not 
will that the posterity of Adam should be made out of the 
ground, as he himself was, but that it should be propagated 
as the other animals. As to our bodily life we eat and drink, 
generate and are generated just like all animals. However 
Moses is greatly concerned in his thought to separate and dis- 
tinguish man from all the animal creatures, because in this way 
the end is reached that after this earthly life man should he- 
come a partaker of the spiritual and eternal life. Now all these 
things pertain, as we have just observed, unto the creation 
work of the sixth day. For as God had said, "Be fruitful and 
multiply," the explanation of the manner in which the woman 
was created and brought to Adam became a necessary- part of 
the sacred narrative. 

All this is moreover intended to lead us into the firm belief 
and satisfaction of mind that six days were really occupied by 
God in his creation of all things, contrary to the opinion of 
Augustine and Hilary, who think that all things were created 
in a moment. To such an extent do they depart from the his- 
tory of facts and follow allegories and indulge in I know not 
what kind of dreamy speculations. Nor do I speak these 
things by way of reproach to the holy fathers, whose labors we 
ought to venerate. I make these statements for the confirma- 
tion of the truth and for our own consolation. The fathers 
were great men. Yet they were men ; men who had fallen and 

genesis 11. 


still liable to fall. So that we have no ground for exalting our- 
selves like the monks, who worship all things belonging to 
themselves as if they were not liable to fall. Whereas for my 
part, it is rather a great consolation to me than otherwise, that 
the fathers are discovered to have erred and fallen at times 
also. Because my thoughts run thus: If God pardoned sins 
and errors in them why should I despair of pardon from him? 
On the other hand, despair immediately comes on if you begin 
to think that the fathers did not experience the same things 
which you feel and suffer. It is at the same time quite certain 
that there was a mighty difference between the call of the 
apostles and the call of the fathers. On what grounds there- 
fore can we esteem the writings of the fathers equal to the 
writings of the apostles ? 

But with special reference to the sacred passage of Moses 
before us, how, I pray you, is it possible that six days should 
be either a moment or an hour? Neither faith, which rests 
wholly in the Word, nor reason itself, can admit this. Where- 
fore let us be assured, that there were between the divine acts 
of the creation certain intervals. Thus, Adam is first created 
alone. Then there are brought unto him all the animals, not 
only that he might name them, but that he might lie tried, by 
seeing whether he could find in all this collection of creatures 
a meet companion. After this, Eve is created. Lastly, these 
words are spoken by the Lord, "Of every tree of the garden 
thou mayest freely eat," etc., which words struck the ears of 
Adam. All these things carry with them a proof that they oc- 
curred at certain intervals of time, unless indeed you would 
turn away like Origen from such plain and positive historical 
facts to the most absurd allegories. For Moses is not here 
giving us a record of God himself, in whose sight all things 
past, present, and future are ever present in the same moment; 
but he is recording a history of Adam, a crealure of time, who 
was made and who lived ; and with whom as a creature there 
is a difference between the present and the future. 1 have 
deemed it right to bring these things to your recollection by 



this repetition. Now let us proceed with Moses. 

V. 21, And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon 
the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed 
up the flesh instead thereof. 

Here again not faith only, but reason and fact also, prove 
that the time of Adam's being awake was one space of time and 
the time of his being asleep another. These spaces have evi- 
dently their intervals. As therefore Adam was created in the 
sixth day, and all the animals were brought to him on that day; 
as he heard the command of God concerning the tree of the 
knowledge of good and evil ; as God sent upon him sleep, it is 
manifest beyond dispute ; that all these facts have reference to 
time and to this animal life. And it is equally evident that the 
days mentioned in the sacred record must be understood to 
have been true and real days, contrary to the opinion of the 
holy fathers. Whenever therefore we find the opinions of the 
fathers to disagree with the Scriptures, we tolerate them with 
reverence and acknowledge them to be our elders in the 
Church ; but we do not for their sakes depart from the au- 
thority of the Scriptures. 

Elegant and true is that sentiment of Aristotle, in the First 
Book of his "Ethics," "Where both friends and truth are near 
to us, it is our sacred duty to give the higher honor to the 
truth." The philosopher of old here plainly affirms that it is 
better to stand by the truth than to show too much favor to 
those who may be our friends or even our relations. Such a 
sentiment is nobly becoming a philosopher. If, therefore, a 
natural man and. a heathen holds that such a principle should 
be maintained in moral, human and civil disputations, with 
how much greater firmness should it be held in the discussion 
of those things which stand on the manifest testimony of the 
Scriptures ! How jealous should we be of setting the authority 
of men above that of the Word ! Men may be deceived, but the 
Word of God itself is the wisdom of God and infallible truth. 

But with respect to this portion, namely, the divine history 
itself, what I pray you, could be recorded more fabulous in the 



estimation of human reason, if you wish to follow that? For 
could any one be found who would believe this fact concerning 
the creation of Eve, if it were not thus openly declared? For 
here all the other creatures stand as plain examples to the con- 
trary. Every other living creature is generated from male 
and female, and is so generated that it is the female that brings 
it into the light. But here the female herself is created from 
the male; and that too with a no less wonderful creation than 
that by which Adam himself was made a living soul, from the 
dust of the ground. These facts are mere monstrosities and 
outrageous absurdities, if you set aside the authority of the 
Holy Scriptures and follow the judgment of reason. Hence it 
is that Aristotle affirms that neither the first man nor the last 
man can be given as the foundation of an argument. And 
reason would force us to affirm the same of her naked self, 
without this text before us. For if it be received as a truth, 
a truth which the uniform law of the whole creation testifies, 
that nothing is born alive but from male and female, it is a 
true conclusion that the first man cannot be accounted for in 
that way. 

The same conclusion may also be declared to be correct by 
human reason concerning the creation of the world, which the 
philosophers of old therefore concluded to be eternal. For 
although reasons are put together by reason, by which is 
proved that the world is not eternal ; yet reason herself, all the 
while, settles down with all her powers upon this basis of con- 
clusion. For what beginning will reason find in nothing? And 
again, if you say that the world had a beginning and that there 
was a time in which the world had no existence it will imme- 
diately follow close upon your heels that, before the world* 
there was nothing at all. Other absurdities will follow in an 
infinite series ; by the multitude of which philosophers being 
struck plunged at once into the conclusion that the world was 

But again if you affirm that the world was infinite, there 
immediately springs up before you another new infinity in the 



successive generation of mankind. But then philosophy will 
not admit a plurality of infinities ; and yet it is compelled to 
admit them upon its own conclusions, because it knows neither 
the beginning of the world nor the beginning of mankind. 
This hostile contrariety and utter obscurity brought the Epi- 
cureans into a state which compelled them to assert, that both 
the world and mankind existed without any reason at all ; and 
that without any reason at all they would both perish; just as 
beasts, which after they are dead, are just as if they never had 
been. From premises like these other terrible conclusions nat- 
urally follow; either that there is positively no God at all, 
or that he cares not at all for human things. These are the 
labyrinths into which reason is brought, when without the 
word of God it follows its own judgment. 

Therefore it is very profitable thus to behold how impossible 
it is that reason or our own wisdom should go beyond the 
above stated limits, in its judgments concerning the creature. 
For what, I pray you, does the philosopher with all his reason- 
ing know of the heavens or the earth or the world ; seeing that 
he understands not whence either of them came or in what 
end they all or either of them, are appointed to terminate. 
Nay, what do we ourselves know concerning ourselves? We 
all sec that we arc men. But ought we not to believe also and 
know that we have this man for our father and that woman for 
our mother? But how or why this is so can never be learned 
from human reason. Hence all our knowledge and our wis- 
dom lie only in the comprehension of the material or formal 
cause; and even in these we often make the most wretched 
mistakes. But as to the efficient and final cause, we know noth- 
ing, nor can explain anything whatsoever. And the saddest 
part of our ignorance is, that our deficiency is at its worst when 
we come to dispute or to speculate concerning the world into 
which we are born and in which we live. Is not this, I pray 
you, a poor and miserable pretension to wisdom? 

Hence Aristotle affirms, that man and the sun beget man. A 
noble doctrine of human philosophy, truly 1 Follow this high- 



est effort of natural reason and it will bring you at length to 
the inevitable conclusion, that both man and the sun are eternal 
and infinite, as the same philosopher concluded the world itself 
was. For you will never find a man who was or is in himself 
either the beginning or the end of himself or of his race- 
Wherefore I myself am not able to discover by my own reason, 
either the beginning or the end of my Martin Luther, if I wish 
to understand either my beginning or my end, and not to be- 
lieve it. For as to our possessing a formal knowledge or a 
knowledge of the forms of things, a cow possesses the same, 
which knows her own home, or, as the German proverb has it, 
"The cow sees and knows the gate." Here again the awfulness 
of the original fall and sin is revealed. For we are thereby 
rendered so destitute of true knowledge that we cannot of 
ourselves discover either our beginning or our end. 

After all the disputations therefore of Aristotle, Plato, Cicero 
and other philosophers of note, who have concluded from 
man's walking upright, while all other animals have their heads 
inclined downwards, looking towards the earth, and from his 
possessing the powers of intellect, that man is a singular an- 
imal and created to immortality according to all this argument 
and conclusion, what a poor, meagre and almost futile wisdom 
is this! The whole of it after all is derived from a contempla- 
tion of the form. And if you should still go on to argue upon 
the material of man, would not the same human Teason compel 
you to conclude that this nature of ours is perishable, must be 
dissolved and cannot be immortal? 

What then is the conclusion of the whole matter? Let us 
learn it. It is, that the only true wisdom is found in the Holy 
Scriptures and in the Word of God. For the Word teaches us 
not only concerning the material, not only concerning the form 
of the whole creation, hut also concerning the efficient and the 
final cause of all things ; and concerning the beginning and the 
end of all things; who created them, what he created and for 
what end he created that which he did create. Without the 
knowledge of the two causes, the efficient and the final, all our 



highest wisdom differs but little from that of the beasts, 
which use their eyes and their ears, but know nothing of the 
beginning or the end of what they see. 

The text before us therefore is very remarkable. And the 
more it seems to be contrary to all our experience and to rea- 
son, the more diligently should we ponder it and the more firm- 
ly should wc believe it. By this text therefore we are taught 
the beginning of man, that the first man did not exist by gener- 
ation, as Aristotle and the other philosophers, deceiving them- 
selves by human reasonings, have dreamed; that the propaga- 
tion of the posterity of the first man is indeed effected by gen- 
eration; but that the first man himself was created from the 
dust of the field and that the first woman was formed and fash- 
ioned out of a rib of the man, extracted from him while he was 
asleep. Here therefore we have the true beginning of man 
which all the reason and philosophy of Aristotle could not dis- 

The beginning then of man, as wrought of God, being thus 
established by the testimony of Moses, there follows the propa- 
gation of man by means of the union of male and female; in no 
degree less wonderful than the original creation of each. The 
whole human race are procreated by a single drop of human 
blood. On this propagation of mankind it is that the apostle 
Paul eloquently displays his philosophy, derived from this 
sacred portion of the Scripture, before the philosophers of 
Athens, "The God that made the world and all things therein," 
etc., "seeing he himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all 
things ; and he made of one blood every nation of men to dwell 
on all the face of the earth ; that they should seek God, if haply 
they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far 
from each one of us : for in him we live, and move, and have 
our being," Acts 17:24-28. Here Paul speaks before all the 
Athenian philosophers of the propagation of mankind "by the 
blood of one,'" as he expresses it. If therefore the whole race 
of mankind have been generated from one small drop of blood 
of one man, and arc still so generated, as the experience of all 



men throughout the whole world testifies, most certainly this 
miracle is no less wonderful and admirable than were those 
original wonders, namely, the creation of the first man from 
the dust of the ground, and that of the first woman from the 
rib of the man. 

But how is it that the original miracles of the creation of 
Adam and Eve seem to us so wonderful and so incredible; 
while the still standing miracle of the continuous propagation 
of man, which we all know and daily see, excites no wonder 
acles become no miracles at all, by familiarity." Hence wc 
or admiration at all ? It is because, as Augustine says, "Mir- 
acles become no miracles at all, by familiarity." Hence we 
wonder not at the admirable light of the sun, because we see 
it every day. For the same reason we admire not other gifts 
and blessings of God's creation, but are blind and deaf to them 
all. On the same ground Pythagoras well said, that a most 
sweet and marvelous concert of sounds was effected by the 
harmony and velocity of the motions and revolutions of the 
heavenly bodies, but that men became deaf to this celestial con- 
cert by hearing it continually; just as those who are accus- 
tomed to the roarings of the Nile are not at all affected by the 
thunders of the water, while to others, who arc not accustomed 
to them, they are awful and intolerable. There is no doubt 
that Pythagoras received this idea from the fathers by tradi- 
tion. Not however that they really believed in any actual har- 
mony of sounds, made by the motions of the heavenly bodies. 
Their meaning was that the creation of these celestial bodies 
was truly delightful and marvelous ; but that their beauty and 
their glory were not duly observed by us ungrateful and insen- 
sate beings ; and that we did not render unto God the praises 
due to him, as th<* Creator of such wonderful and admirable 

Thus also it is a great miracle that a small seed placed in the 
ground should cause to spring forth a lofty and magnificent 
oak. But as this is so familiar as an everyday occurrence, it 
makes no impression upon us ; just so little do we appreciate 



the nature and manner of our own propagation. For why is it 
not worthy of the highest admiration that a woman should re- 
ceive human seed, which then grows, and as Job 10 :n so beau- 
tifully says, "Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and 
knit me together with bones and sinews ;" that is, formed me 
and nourished me in my mother until I was matured to live in 
the air, separated from her. In this new state of existence I 
received no new nourishment, but it came from the same 
mother in a new way and manner, in that from both breasts 
of my mother as from fountains, her milk went forth by which 
her infant was nourished. All this is most wonderful and ut- 
terly incomprehensible, but lightly esteemed by us because we 
have truly become deaf to this most pleasant and lovely music 
of nature. 

Whereas could all these marvelous realities be seen and esti- 
mated by the vision of true faith, they would be no more com- 
mon things to the beholder, nor less miracles, than that which 
Moses here records, when he testifies that one of Adam's ribs 
was taken from his side while he was asleep, and that the 
woman Eve was formed out of it by the hand of God. For if it 
had pleased the Lord to form us as he did Adam, from the dust 
of the ground, by this time that manner of forming man might 
have ceased also to be a miracle in our sight ; and we might 
now perhaps be rather admiring the existing law of the gener- 
ation of mankind by male and female. So true is that barbar- 
ously-composed perhaps, but by no means random-shot poetical 

Omne rartim carum : vilescit quotidianunt. 
"Rare things will e'er delight our eyes, 
But common things are no surprise." 

Thus if the stars did not rise every night and in all places, 
what crowds would gather where the light of one night's 
starry heaven might be witnessed! But now not one of us 
opens a single window to behold the sight. 

Most justly condemnable, therefore, is our ingratitude. For 
if we believe God to be the efficient and final cause of all things, 


20 = 

ought we not to wonder at his works, to be delighted with 
Lhem, and to proclaim them always and everywhere? But how 
few are there who do this in truth and from the heart? 

In vain therefore and absurd is the doctrine of Aristotle, that 
man and the sun beget man. We learn from this book a far 
different cause of propagation, the commanding Word of God 
which says to this and to that husband, Thy drop of blood shall 
on this occasion become a male, and on that occasion a female. 
But of this word reason knows nothing. Therefore reason can 
do nothing but invent trifles and absurdities concerning the 
causes of such mighty things. Medical professors, following 
the philosophers, have given us Lheir various opinions concern- 
ing the propagation of mankind; and though reason may not 
be able to deny the justness of many of them, yet all of them 
put together cannot reach the great first cause. The Holy 
Spirit leads us far deeper than all the opinions of men, when 
it sets before us the Word of God, by which all things are 
created and conserved. 

Hence the mighty reason why a man, and not an ox nor an 
ass, is generated by a drop of human blood, is the effectual 
power of the Word which was spoken by God at the creation 
of all things, "in the beginning." It is in divine truth there- 
fore that Christ teaches us in the Lord's Prayer to call upon 
God as our Father, and that the Creed teaches us to confess 
God as our Creator. When we look back therefore to this first 
cause, then can. we speak of all these things with pureness, 
with holiness and with joy. But if we leave out the first cause, 
we cannot even think of them without baseness and obscenity. 

From this part of our sacred discussion we further behold 
the horrible nature of the fall and of original sin, in that the 
whole human race is sunk in ignorance of its very origin. Wc 
see male and female come together in marriage union. We sec 
the female at her appointed time bring forth from a drop of 
masculine blood her infant into the light of heaven. These 
things, we repeat, are familiar to the sight and to the knowl- 
edge of all; and yet, if the Word teach and instruct thee not, 


LUT1IEK on the creation. 

thou knowcst nothing- of the marvelous work which is wrought 
and which thine eyes behold. This ignorance is abundantly 
proved by the vain disputations of philosophers, which we 
have just been contemplating. Is not this then a miserable 
ignorance and a horrible blindness? 

Whereas, had Adam continued in his innocency, he would 
have found no need of instructing his posterity in their origin, 
even as there was no need of being himself instructed in the 
creation of his wife Eve, for the moment he saw her he knew 
that she was "bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh." And 
had the original innocence continued, the same knowledge of 
themselves would have existed in all the posterity of Adam. 
They would all have understood the great final and efficient 
Cause of which things we now know little or nothing more than 
the beasts of the field themselves. 

Therefore to the ears of reason this is a most beautiful and 
pleasing fable which philosophers have with pleasure greatly 
misused, if they heard it and just as they heard it, especially 
those versed in the arts and wisdom of the Egyptians. But 
for us it is an inexpressibly precious wisdom that makes known 
to us the fable the world judges ridiculous ; namely, that the 
genesis of the generation of man was constituted by the Word 
of God. For God takes the dust of the earth and says, "Let 
us make man !" Likewise afterwards he takes the rib of Adam 
and says, "Let us make a helpmeet for man." We will now 
consider the words themselves since we have referred suffi- 
ciently to the doctrine as it was necessary to do so. 

Having thus discussed, as was necessary, the divine facts 
themselves, contained in the text before us, let us now consider 
the expressions used by the sacred historian in recording them. 

Jehovah" God, says Moses, caused to glide or fall upon Adam 
thardemah, "a slumber" or a "deep sleep;" for the verb 
radam signifies "to fall asleep as those do who become drowsy 
unaware and nod the head." For there are various kinds and 
degrees of sleep. Some are heavy and profound, which are 
so deep as to be disturbed by no dreams. These are healthful, 



because they moisten the body, are beneficial to promote diges- 
tion, and are attended with no distress to the head. Others 
again are light, mingled as it were with wakefulness. In these 
latter, dreams are more frequent. They also, more or less, 
distress the head and are proofs of a weakness of body. 

Moses says therefore that Adam was sunk into a profound 
sleep; so that stretched on the grassy earth, he breathed deeply, 
as those do who sleep well and sweetly. It was such a sleep 
that God, as Moses informs us, caused to fall upon Adam. 
And this is indeed a sleep truly divine, a most delightful gift 
of God, which comes down upon us like a dew from above, and 
softly pervades and irr orates the whole body. 

When Adam therefore was thus fallen asleep, the Lord look- 
out one of his ribs. The Hebrew word zela signifies, "the rib 
with the side." Wherefore my view of the passage is, that the 
Lord did not take the bare rib of Adam, but the rib clothed 
with the flesh, according to that very expression of Adam be- 
low, verse 23, "this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my 
flesh." And God, be it observed, did" this by his Word. So 
that we are not to suppose that God used any cutting, after the 
manner of a surgeon. God said, out of this bone thus clothed 
with flesh, "Let there be woman 1" and it was so. And God 
afterwards filled up the aperture in his side with flesh. 

Here a discussion is raised by some marvelous triflers of 
commentators. They will have it that the male has more ribs 
on one side of the body than on the other. But surgeons, who 
are anatomists, know better than this. Lyra disputes the point 
thus: "Are we to consider that the extracted rib was a super- 
fluous one in the body of Adam? If it was so, it was a mon- 
strosity. If it were not so, it must follow that Adam after- 
fluous one in the body of Adam? If it were so, it was a mon- 
strosity. At length, Lyra arrives at the conclusion that the 
extracted rib was superfluous in Adam, as a solitary instance ; 
and that therefore when it had been extracted, the body of 
Adam was perfect. And yet, that the body of Adam was de- 
ficient in this extracted superfluous rib, because of the creation 



of the woman out of it. 

But to all these things we give an answer by the words, "God 
said !" This divine Word settles all arguments of this descrip- 
tion. What need is there then of disputation as to whence 
God took any particular portion of created material, who by 
one word of his mouth can create and did create all things? 
All these idle questions however are used by philosophers and 
professors of medicine, who dispute about the works of God 
without the Word of God; whereas by so doing, they sink out 
of sight both the glory of the Holy Scriptures and the glorious 
majesty of the Creator. 

Wherefore leaving all such questions as these, we will abide 
simply by the history of the facts, as they are recorded by 
Moses ; that Eve was formed out of the rib of Adam, and that 
the aperture made in that part of his body was closed up with 
flesh. Tims Adam was made out of the dust of the ground. 
I was made out of a drop of my father's blood. But how my 
mother conceived me, how I was formed in the womb, how my 
bones grew there, Eccles. 11:5, all this I leave to the glory 
of my Creator. It is indeed incredible that a man should be 
born from a drop of blood; yet it is a truth. If therefore this 
Almighty power can produce a human being from a drop of 
blood, why not from a lump of earth also, why not from a rib ! 

And as to Adam's sleeping so profoundly, as not to feel what 
was done unto him ; this soundness of sleep is as it were a sweet 
picture of that change which Adam would have witnessed had 
he continued in his state of innocency. For a righteous na- 
ture could have experienced no pains of death. Adam would 
have lived in the highest possible pleasure, in obedience to God 
and in admiration of his works until the time of his change, 
appointed of God, had come ; and then he would have experi- 
enced a removal something like this sleep, which fell upon him 
so sweetly as he lay down amid the roses and beneath the rich- 
est foliage of trees. And in such a departing sleep would he 
have been changed and translated into the glorified spiritual 
life, feeling no more in death than he felt of his body being 



opened and of the extraction of the rib, with its flesh, from his 

But now this nature of ours must experience the pangs of 
death. That dissolution of the body however is followed in the 
saints by the sweetest of all sleep, until the day when wc shall 
awake unto a newness of life and a life eternal. And as Adam 
here in all the fulness of wonder exclaims this is now bone of 
my bones and flesh of my flesh, and yet was so sweetly and 
deeply sunk in sleep, that he knew not that his rib had been ex- 
tracted from his side ; so shall we in that day exclaim, Behold, 
into what sudden glory does this body, lately gnawed by 
worms, arise, etc. 

Thus far have we spoken with sufficient copiousness upon 
the creation of Eve, which creation, although it seems to hu- 
man reason perfectly fabulous, is yet most sure and true, be- 
cause it is recorded in the Word of God, which alone teachcth 
the truth concerning the two principal causes of philosophers, 
the efficient and the final ; and concerning the great first cause 
of all causes. The knowledge of which two causes, where it 
can be obtained, is of the utmost moment even in natural things. 
For what doth it profit to know how beautiful a creature man 
is, if you know not the end for which he was created ; namely, 
that he was created for the worship of God, and that he might 
live to all eternity with God. 

Aristotle does indeed say something of note when he makes 
the end of man to be happiness, a happiness consisting in the 
action of virtue. But in all this weakness of our nature, who 
is there that ever yet attained unto that end, when even the 
very best of men arc exposed to a multitude of evils, which the 
common trials of life or the depravity and malice of men are 
sure to bring upon them ? That happiness of which Aristotle 
speaks, requires tranquility of mind to make it perfect ; but who 
can always hold fast that peace of mind, amid such tossings to 
and fro of human life? In vain therefore is such an end pro- 
posed by the philosopher, which no man can attain. 

The principal end of man's creation therefore, which the Holv 



Scriptures set before us is, that man was created in the likeness 
of God, with the divine intent that he should live forever with 
God, and that while here on earth he should praise and extol 
God, give him thanks and obey his Word in all patience. And 
this end we do attain by some means or other, through grace, 
though with all infirmity in this life, and in the life to come we 
shall attain unto it perfectly. Of these things philosophers 
know nothing. And therefore the world, in the height of all its 
wisdom, is yet sunk in the deepest ignorance, wherever it is 
found destitute of the Word or of theology. For men without 
the Word know nothing of their beginning or their end. I 
mention not any of the other living creatures, who are not 
created, as we have abundantly shown, to know any of these 
things, nor to partake of these high blessings. 



V. 22. And the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the 
man, made (built) he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 

A new expression is this again, unheard before. Moses does 
not use the verb "to create," or "to make," as in Gen. 1 :26; but 
the verb "to build." This has caused all commentators to con- 
clude that some great mystery lies under so singular a phrase- 
ology. Lyra thinks, with his Rabbi Solomon, that the new 
form of the female body is intended to be intimated. For, as 
the form of buildings is broader at the base, but narrower at 
the upper part, so, he says, the bodies of women are broader 
in the middle, and more contracted in the upper parts, while 
men have wider chests and broader shoulders. But these are 
mere peculiarities of certain parts of the body; whereas the 
Scripture is speaking of the body as a whole, and calling it a 
building; just as Christ himself calls the body the house of a 
man, Math. 12 :2t). 

Others have recourse to an allegory, and say, that the woman 
is here called "a building," on account of her being spoken of 
in the Scriptures as a similitude of the Church. And as in a 



house there are various parts, walls, beams, rafters, roof, etc. ; 
so in the Church, which is represented by the Holy Spirit under 
the similitude of a body, on account of the diversity of its mem- 
bers, there are various offices and administrators. As to my- 
self I am by no means displeased at anything that is appro- 
priately advanced by those who would transfer what is here 
said respecting the building of the woman, to Christ and his 
Church. But as all these opinions amount only to an allegory 
after all, the historical and proper meaning of this passage 
must be diligently searched into and retained. For a woman, 
especially a married woman, is here sacredly termed "a build- 
ing," not allegorically, but historically and really. And the 
Scriptures universally use this form of expression. 

Hence Rachel says to Jacob, "Take my maid Bilhah, that I 
may also be built up by her," Gen. 30:3. The Scriptures speak 
in the same manner also concerning Sarah, Gen. iG:2, And 
in Exodus, it is said concerning the midwives, "that the Lord 
built them a house," Exod. 1 :2i ; that is, that the Lord repaid 
them for all the services which they had rendered unto his 
people Israel, contrary to the command of the king, by blessing 
them with a household and family. So again, in the history of 
David, when he had it in his heart to build a house for the Lord, 
he receives this answer from God by Nathan, "Furthermore, I 
tell thee, that the Lord will build thee an house," 1 Chron. 
17 :io. 

It is a form of expression therefore quite general in the Scrip- 
ture, to term a woman a domestic "building," on account of the 
fruits of generation and the bringing up of the offspring. But 
the real nature of this building up, which would have existed 
had Adam not fallen, we have now lost by his sin ; so that we 
cannot now reach it, as we have all along observed, even in 
thought. Our present fallen condition in this life retains cer- 
tain small miserable remnants of the original domestic life, cul- 
tivation of the earth, and defense of property ; and also of do- 
minion over the beasts. We have the rule over sheep, oxen, 
geese, fowls, etc.; though boars, bears, lions, etc., regard not 



this our dominion. So also there remains a certain hardly 
visible remnant of this female building. Whoso taketh to him- 
self a wife, hath as it were in her a certain nest and home. He 
dwells with her in a certain place, as birds nestle with their 
young in their little nest. But this dwelling together in the 
one nest they know not, who live unmarried like the impure 

This living together of male and female, as man and wife, in 
the state of matrimony, their keeping house together, their 
being blessed together with offspring, their bringing up their 
children, is a faint picture and remnant of that blessed original 
married life, on account of the nature of which, Moses here 
terms the woman a "building." The posterity of Adam, had 
he continued in his innocency, would have taken to themselves 
wives, would have parted from Adam their father, and would 
have chosen for themselves certain little garden spots of their 
own, and would have there dwelt with their wives, tilled the 
ground, and brought up their children. There would have been 
no need of splendid mansions built of hewn stone, nor of rich 
kitchens, nor cellars of wine, which now make up the luxuries 
of life. But as birds in their little nests, the married pairs 
would have dwelt together here and there, diligently laboring 
and calling upon God. And the women would have been the 
principal cause of their husbands living in certain dwelling 
places in paradise. Whereas now, under our present fallen and 
calamitous state by sin, we absolutely need houses of wood and 
stone, to defend us from the injuries of the weather. And 
though we cannot form even a conception, as we have said, of 
the original felicity of man and woman in their marriage happi- 
ness, yet even these miserable remnants, we repeat, are excel- 
lent gifts of God ; to live in the possession of which, without 
continual thanks, is wickedness in the extreme. 

With reference to the "dominion" which man received from 
the hand of God, we feel how much of that dominion is lost 
since our fall and defilement by sin. Yet, what an infinite 
mercy still remains to us, that this "dominion" was given to 



man and not to the devil ! For how should we possibly have 
been able to stand in this matter, against such an invisible 
enemy, especially if power to harm had been possessed by him 
equal to his will? We might all have been in danger of anni- 
hilation in an hour, yea, in a moment, if Satan had determined 
to infuriate the wild beasts against us. Although well nigh all 
the original "dominion" is lost, it is an infinite blessing that our 
present remnants of it are not possessed by the devil ! 

It is an infinite mercy also that we possess our present rem- 
nants of generation. Although, in the state of original inno- 
cency women, as we know, would iiave brought forth without 
pain ; yet there would have been a much more extensive fruit- 
fulness. Whereas now the blessing of generation is impeded 
by numberless diseases. It often happens that the fruit of the 
womb does not arrive at maturity and birth and sometimes the 
woman is barren altogether. All these defects are the puuish- 
ments of the horrible fall of Adam and of original sin. Just 
in the same manner, to this present day, is the woman the 
"building," and house, and home of the husband. To the 
woman the man devotes himself. With her he lives ; and to- 
gether with her, he undertakes the labor and care of bringing 
up the family; as it is written below, verse 24, "Therefore shall 
a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his 
wife," etc. 

But this living together as man and wife is not only attended 
with those other trials, which afflict the marriage state in great 
number and variety on account of sin, but is also astonishingly 
deformed and marred by perverse nature ; seeing that there are 
not only those who consider it to be very wise and great to re- 
proach the female sex and to despise marriage, but who even 
forsake the wives whom they have married, and cast off all 
paternal care of their children. Such men destroy the building 
of God by their perverseness and wickedness. Men of this de- 
scription are a kind of monsters in nature. Wherefore let us 
show our obedience to the Word of God by acknowledging our 
wives to be the building of the Lord ; through whom not only 



our house is built up by generation, and by whom other neces- 
sary domestic duties arc performed ; but through whom Ave the 
husbands themselves are also built up, by our rising offspring 
around us. For wives are, as we have said, a certain nest and 
center of habitation to which the husbauds resort, where they 
dwell and live in pleasure and happiness. 

When Moses adds, "And he brought her unto the man," this 
is a certain divine description of espousals especially worthy our 
observation. For Adam does not take hold of Eve when 
created and draw her to himself, according to his own purpose 
and will, but he waits till God brings her to him; just according 
to the saying of Christ, "What therefore God hath joined to- 
gether, let not man put asunder," Math. 19:6, for the joining 
ol male and female is a lawful joining and ordinance, and an 
institution divine. 

Wherefore Moses here adopts his peculiar and appropriate 
phraseology, "And he brought her to the man." Who brought 
ncr to the man? He, God, Jehovah, Elohim, the Jehovah 
God, the Whole Divinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
Ghost. These all unitedly say to Adam, Behold, this is thy 
bride with whom thou art to dwell and with whom thou art 
to generate and bring up children. And there is no doubt 
whatever that Adam received Eve with the utmost pleasure; 
for even now, in this corrupt state of nature, the mutual love 
between bride and bridegroom is peculiar, great and excellent. 
But apart from the epileptic and apoplectic lust in the mar- 
riage state today, it was a chaste and most pleasing love, and 
union itself was most honorable and most holy. Now however 
sin pours itself in and expresses itself from the eves and ears 
everywhere, and then in all the senses. 

This passage demands particular notice. For it stands as 
the revealed will of God, not only against all abuses of the sex 
and lusts of every kind, but also as a confirmation of marriage, 
and all those impious revilings and refusings by which the 
papacy has deformed and marred matrimony. Is it not worthy 
of admiration that God instituted and ordained marriage even 



in the state of innocency? Much more need then have we of 
this divine institution and ordination in our present state, 
wherein our flesh is weak and so corrupt through sin. This 
divine consolation therefore stands proof and invincible against 
all doctrines of devils, 1 Tim. 4:1. By the Scripture before us, 
we see that marriage is a state of life divine; that is, ordained 
of God himself. 

What was it therefore that came into the minds of those 
tools of Satau and enemies of Christ, who deny that there could 
be any holiness or chastity in marriage, and who affirmed that 
those only were adapted for ministers of churches who lived in 
celibacy, because the Scriptures, they argued, said, Be ye clean 
that bear the vessels of the Lord, Is. 52:11. Are then those 
who are married unclean? If so, God himself is the author 
and institutor of uncleaiiness 3 who himself brought Eve to 
Adam. Adam himself also did evil in suffering himself to be 
persuaded to enter into a state of uncleanness, when his nature 
in his state of innocency needed not marriage. But have not 
the impious Papists suffered the righteous punishments of such 
blasphemies? They have not only polluted themselves with 
harlots in multitudes, but have indulged in other unmentionable 
wickednesses, even unto abomination, and are at this day just 
ripe for the punishments of Sodom and Gomorrah. 

When I was a boy, marriage was positively considered so 
infamous on account of all this impure and impious celibacy, 
that I used to believe I could not even think of the married life 
without sin. For the minds of men generally were filled with 
the persuasion that if any one wished to live a holy life, and a 
life acceptable to God, a man must never become a husband nor 
a woman a wife, but must take upon them the vow of celibacy ; 
and hence many men who had married became on the death of 
their wives either monks or contemptible priests. All those 
worthy men therefore who have labored and endeavored to 
cause marriage to be honored as aforetime, according to the 
Word of God, and to be held in all its due praise, have taken 
upon themselves a highly useful and necessary service to the 



Church of Christ. So that now, blessed be God, all men 
consider it to be good and holy to live in unanimity and tran- 
quility with a wife, even though it should be the lot of any one, 
Prov. 16:33, t0 have a w ^ e that is barren, or laboring under 
any other affliction. 

I do not however deny that there are some men who can live 
chastely without marriage ; but let these who have thus a gift 
greater than the most of mankind, sail in their own ship. But 
as for that chastity which the Pope so highly lauds in his monks 
and nuns, and contemptible priests, it is in the first place pol- 
luted and contaminated by numberless horrible sins; and in 
addition to all this, celibacy is an institution 01 man without 
any warrant from the Word of God. O, what triumphs would 
the Papists celebrate could they but prove by the Word of God 
their celibacy to be a divine institution, as we can abundantly 
prove marriage to be. With what mighty weight of the Pope's 
authority would they compel all men to adopt their life of celi- 
bacy. Whereas now the only commendation of celibacy, which 
they can discover, is a tradition of men, or rather as Paul hath 
it, a doctrine of devils, Col. 2 :8 ; 1 Tim. 4 :i. 

V. 23a. And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, 
and flesh of my flesh. 

The sentence which immediately follows, "Therefore shall 
a man leave his father and his mother," etc., is cited by our 
Lord, Math. 19:5, as the words of God himself, and not of 
Adam. But in that particular point there is no difficulty what- 
ever, because as Adam was pure and holy the words of Adam 
may rightly be said to be divine words or the voice of God, for 
God spoke through him. All the words and the works of 
Adam in that state of innocency are divine, and therefore may 
truly be said to be the words and works of God. 

Eve is presented to Adam by God himself. And just in the 
same manner as the will of God is prepared to institute mar- 
riage, so Adam is prepared to receive Eve with all pleasure and 
holiness when brought unto him. So even now also the affec- 
tion of the intended husband toward his betrothed spouse, is 

genesis a. 


of a particular and elevated kind. It is, nevertheless, deeply 
contaminated with that leprous lust of the flesh which, in right- 
eous Adam, had no existence. 

It is worthy of our greatest wonder and admiration, that 
Adam, the moment he glanced his eye on Eve, knew her to be 
a building formed out of himself. He immediately said, "This 
is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." These are 
not the words of an ignorant one, nor of one who was a sin- 
ner ; nor of one who was ignorant of the works and of the crea- 
tion of God. They are the words of one righteous and wise, 
and full of the Holy Spirit; of that Holy Spirit who reveais 
to the world, before ignorant of such high and holy wisdom, 
that God is the efficient cause of marriage and of man's taking 
to himself a wife, and that the final cause of marriage is that 
the wife might be unto her husband a civil, moral and domestic 
habitation, and cohabitation. This knowledge comes not from 
the five senses and reason merely. It is a revelation, as ivc 
here see, of the Holy Spirit. 

The expression hapaam, "now," "in this instance," or "at 
length," is by no means useless or superfluous as it may at first 
seem. That very word in this sentence, uttered by Adam, 
most beautifully expresses the glad surprise and exulting joy 
of a noble spirit which had been seeking this delightful meet 
companion of life and of bed ; a companionship full, not only of 
love, but of holiness. As if Adam had said, I have seen all 
beasts ; I have considered all the females among them given to 
them of God for the multiplication and preservation of their 
kind, but all these are nothing to me! This female however 
is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She is at length 
what and all I want. With her I desire to live, and with her 
to obey the will of God in the propagation of a posterity. This 
is the kind of overflowing feeling of joy and love which this 
particular word "hapaam," used by Adam, is intended to ex- 

Now however this true purity, innocence and holiness are 
lost. There still remains indeed a feeling of joy and affection 



in the intended husband toward his spouse ; but it is impure 
and corrupt, on account of sin. Tiie affection of Adam how- 
ever was most pure, most holy and most grateful to God, when 
under the excess of it, he said, "This is now bone of my bones, 
and flesh of my flesh." She is not made of stone, nor of wood, 
nor of a lump of earth, as I was. She is nearer to me than all 
this, for she is made of my own very bones and very flesh. 

V. 23b. She shall be called Woman (man-farmed), because 
she ivas taken out of Alan. 

As Adam knew by the Holy Spirit the things just mentioned, 
which he saw not before, and as he praises God and extols him 
for his having created for him a meet life-companion out of his 
own body; so now, by the same Spirit, he prophesies of his 
Eve's future, when he says that she ought to be called a man- 
formed or man-like female (virago'}. The truth is, that it is 
utterly impossible for any interpreter to convey through any 
ctheT language the peculiar strength and beauty of the original 
Hebrew expression. Iscn signifies a man, — and Adam says 
concerning Eve, "She shall be called ischa/' as if we should 
say, She shall be called vira, from vir, a man. Because a wife 
is an heroic or man-like woman ; for she floes man-like things, 
and performs man-like duties. 

This name Adam gives to the woman contains in it a won- 
derful and sweet description of marriage, in which, as the law- 
yers express it, "The woman shines in the rays of her hus- 
band.'' For whatever the husband possesses, is possessed, and 
held by the wife also. And not only is all their wealth pos- 
sessed by them in common, but their children also, their food, 
their bed, and their habitation. Their wishes are also equal. 
So that the husband differs from the wife in no other thing than 
in sex. In every other respect, the woman is really a man. 
For whatsoever the man possesses in their house, the woman 
possesses also ; and what the man is, that also is the woman ; 
she differs from the man in sex only. In a word the woman, 
as Paul remarks in his instructions to Timothy, is man-formed 
and man-like by her very origin; for, as the apostle says to 



Timothy, Adam was first formed, then Eve from the man, and 
not the man from the woman, 1 Tim. 2 113. 

Of this communion of all things in marriage, we still pos- 
sess some feeble remnants, though miserable indeed they be 
when compared with what they were in their original state. 
For even now the wife, if she be but an honorable, modest and 
godly woman, participates in all the cares, wishes, desires, pur- 
suits, duties and actions of her husband. And it was for this 
end indeed that she was created "in the beginning;" and for 
this end was called virago, that she might differ in sex only 
from the father of the family, since she was taken from man. 

And though this name can apply in its strictest and fullest 
sense to Eve only, who, alone of all women, was created thus 
out of man, yet our Lord applies the whole sentence of Adam 
to all wives when he says that man and wife arc one flesh, Math. 
19 :5, 6. Although therefore thy wife be not made of thy flesh 
and thy bones; yet, because she is thy wife, she is as much the 
mistress of thy house, as thou art the master thereof, except 
that by the law of God, which was brought in after the fall the 
woman is made subject to the man. That is the woman's pun- 
ishment, as are many other troubles also which come short of 
the glories of paradise, concerning which glories the sacred 
text before us gives us so much information. For Moses is 
not here speaking of the miserable life which all married people 
now live ; but concerning the life of innocency, in which, had 
that innocency continued, the government of the man and of 
the woman would have been equal and the same. 

Hence it is that Adam gave the name, "woman," ischa, or 
"man-formed female," virago or vira, to Eve, prophetically on 
account of the equal administration of all things with her hus- 
band in the house. But now the sweat of the hrow rests upon 
the man. And to the wife it is commanded that she be in sub- 
jection to the man. There still remain however certain rem- 
nants or dregs as it were of the woman's dominion. So that 
the wife may still be called man-like female, on account of her 
common possession of all things with her husband. 



V. 24. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his moth- 
er, and shall cleave unto his iv'tfe. 

Christ in Math. 19:5 and Paul in 1 Cor. 6:16, apply these 
words of Adam, as a common rule or law for our marriages 
since the loss of original innocence. If therefore Adam had 
remained in his original state of innocency, the children born 
unto him would have married ; and leaving the table and dwell- 
ing place of their parents, and living no longer with them, 
would have had their own trees under which they would have 
lived separate from their parents. They would have come from 
time to time to their father Adam, sung a hymn, spoken glori- 
ously of Cod, called upon him, and then returned to their own 

And even now, though all other things are changed, yet this 
close bond between married persons still remains firm. So that 
a man would leave his father and his mother much sooner than 
he would leave his wife. And where we find the contrary to 
this, for married persons are now sometimes found to leave and 
forsake each other, all this is not only contrary to the present 
divine command by the mouth of Adam, but such things are 
awful signs of that horrible corruption, which has come upon 
man through sin; and such corruption and unfaithfulness are 
greatly increased by Satan, the father of all dissensions. 

Heathen nations also have discovered that there is 'nothing 
more appropriate for man nor beneficial for kingdoms than this 
oneness of the life of married persons. Hence they affirm, that 
it is a conclusion drawn from the law of nature that a wife, 
who shall retain her individuality or oneness of life with her 
husband, even unto death, is necessary for man. Hence also 
Christ himself sa)'S, that Moses suffered the Jews to give their 
wives a bill of divorcement, because of the hardness of their 
hearts; but that in the beginning it was not so, Mark 10:4, 
Math. 19 :8. These evils of divorcements have all arisen since 
the fall through sin ; as have also adulteries, poisonings and 
such like, which are sometimes found among married persons. 
Scarce a thousandth part of that primitive innocent, holy mar- 



riage is now left to us. And even to this day the husband and 
the wife have their home-nest, for the sake of mutual help and 
generation, according to the command of God, issued by the 
mouth of our first parent Adam ; by which this state of married 
life and this leaving father and mother is exaltedly and glori- 
ously commended, as well as commanded of God himself; as 
Christ also affirms in his reference to the words of Adam, on 
which we are now dwelling. 

This 'leaving father and mother" however is not to be un- 
derstood as a command that the children of Adam, when mar- 
ried, should have nothing more to do with their parents. The 
command reaches only to dwelling any longer with their father 
and mother. It enjoins the children when married to have 
their own home-nest. In the present state of sin, and all its 
various evils, we often find that children are compelled to sup- 
port their parents, when worn down with age and necessities. 
But had paradise and all its innocency continued, the state of 
life would have been inconceivably more exalted and blessed 
than our present fallen and sinful condition. Yet even then this 
same command of Adam, or rather of God himself, would have 
been obeyed. The husband, through love of his wife, would 
have chosen his homestead and made his home-nest with her, 
as the little birds do, and would have left his father and his 
mother for that purpose. 

This sentence of Adam is also prophetic. For as yet there 
was no father or mother; nor consequently were there any 
children. Adam nevertheless through the Holy Spirit prophe- 
sies of that married life, which should be in the world, and 
predictively describes the separate dwelling of man and wife, 
and the separate domestic authorities and governments of the 
several families in all ages ; that each family should have their 
own nest habitation, authority and rule. 

V. 25. And they were both naked, the mast and his wife, 
and were not ashavied. 

This short closing sentence of the present chapter might have 
been omitted without any loss, seeing that it mentions a cir- 



ctimstancc for recording which there seems no great need. 
For what does it concern us to know whether those in paradise 
walked about naked or clothed in raiment ? This little clause 
of the concluding sentence however is very striking and very 
necessary. It shows us in a matter apparently quite insignifi- 
cant, how dreadful an amount of evil this nature of ours has 
suffered through original sin. 

All nations, more especially those of the north, hold naked- 
ness of the body in great abhorrence. In like manner the more 
grave and modest characters among us, not only condemn short 
military jackets, as they arc called, which are worn by our 
youth, but avoid public baths. And our uncomely parts, l Cor. 
12:23, arc always most studiously covered. This among us 
is wisdom and a moral discipline worthy of alt praise. But 
Adam and Eve, Moses informs us, went about naked, and were 
not ashamed. For them therefore to go about naked was not 
only not disgraceful, but even laudable, delightful and glorious 
to God. 

But all this delight and glory we have now lost by sin. We 
alone, of all creatures, are born naked ; and with an uncovered 
skin we enter into this world. Whereas all the other animals 
bring into the world with them, as coverings of their own, 
skins, hairs, bristles, feathers or scales. We, on the other 
hand, continually need the shadow of buildings to protect us 
from the heat of the sun, and a multitude of garments to de- 
fend us from the rain, the hail, the frost and the snow. Adam 
however, had he continued innocent, would have felt none of 
these injuries or inconveniences. But as the human eyes re- 
tain still that peculiarity of nature, that they are not evilly af- 
fected or distressed either by cold or by heat ; so would the 
whole body of Adam have been entirely free from the dis- 
tresses of cold or heat, had he never fallen. Had Eve, our 
mother, sat among us naked the mere form of her breast and 
other members of her body would not have offended us. Biit 
now because of sin they awaken in us shame and inflame us 
with evil lust and passion. 



This brief clause therefore shows us the awfulncss of the 
evil which has come upon us, as the consequence of the sin 01 
with that dignity and beauty of body, that he could appear un- 
would be considered a proof of utter insanity. That very 
state of body therefore which was in Adam and Eve their high- 
est glory, would be in us, should we be seen in that state, our 
deepest shame. It was the very glory of man and would have 
continued to be so, had he remained in his original innocencv, 
that while all the other animals had need of hairs, feathers, 
scales, etc., to cover their unsightliness, man alone was created 
with that dignit}' and beauty of body, that he could appear un- 
covered, in the glory of his created nakedness. But all this 
glory is lost. We are now compelled not only for necessary 
protection, but for the sake of avoiding the deepest turpitude, 
to cover our bodies with more study and care than any other 
animals of God's creation. For they all come into the world 
covered by nature. 

After this manner therefore does this second chapter of the 
book of Genesis more clearly and fully describe the creative 
work of the sixth day. In what manner man was created by 
the wonderful counsel of God. In what manner the garden of 
Eden was formed, in which man might have lived in the high- 
est possible pleasure. In what manner, by means of the pro- 
hibition of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the ex- 
ternal worship of the future church \, .is instituted by divine 
authority. By what external worship and in which place, had 
the prohibition of the tree of knowledge not been violated by 
Adam and Eve, they would have testified their obedience 
to God, had they not been deceived and drawn aside by the 
snares of Satan. 

Some suppose that Adam with his Eve passed the night of 
the sixth day in paradise until the following seventh day, the 
Sabbath. And what occurred on the Sabbath day, the follow- 
ing chapter will inform us. 



V. ia. Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of 
the Held which Jehovah God had made. 

In the preceding- chapter, we were taught the manner in 
which man was created on the sixth day ; that he was created in 
the image and after the likeness of God, that his will was good 
and perfect, and that his reason or intellect was also perfect, so 
that whatsoever God willed or said, that man also willed, be- 
lieved and understood. And this knowledge was necessarily 
accompanied by the knowledge of all other creatures, etc. For 
wherever the perfect knowledge of God is, there must also be, 
of necessity, the perfect knowledge of other things, which are 
inferior to God. 

This original state of things shows how horrible the fall of 
Adam and Eve was, by which we have lost all that most beauti- 
fully and gloriously illumined reason, and all that will which 
was wholly conformed to the Word and will of God. For by 
the same sin and ruin we have lost also all the original dignity 
of our bodies, so that now, it is the extreme of baseness to be 
seen "naked," whereas originally that nudity was the especial 
and most beautiful and dignified privilege of the human race, 
with which they were endowed of God above all the beasts of 
the creation. And the greatest loss of all these losses is, that 
not only is the will lost, but there has followed in its place a cer- 
tain absolute aversion to the will of God. So that man neither 
wills nor does any one of those things which God wills and 
commands. Nay, we know not what God is, what grace is, 
what righteousness is ; nor in fact what sin itself is which has 




caused the loss of all. 

These are indeed horrible defects in our fallen nature, to 
which they, who see not and understand not, are more blind 
than moles. Universal experience indeed shows us all these 
calamities ; but we never feel the real magnitude of them until 
we look back to that unintelligible but real state of innocency, 
in which there existed the perfection of will, the perfection of 
reason and that glorious dignity of the nakedness of the hu- 
man body. When we truly contemplate our loss of all these 
gifts and contrast that privation with the original possession 
of them, then do we, in some measure, estimate the mighty evil 
of original sin. 

Great causes of gross error therefore are created by those 
who extenuate this mighty evil of original sin, who speak of 
our corrupt nature after the manner of philosophers, who would 
represent human nature as not thus corrupted. For such men 
maintain that there remain, not only in the nature of man, but 
in the nature of the devil also, certain natural qualities which 
are sound and whole. But this is utterly false. What and 
how little remains in us that is good and whole, we do indeed in 
some measure see and feel. But what and how much we have 
lost, they most certainly see not who dispute about certain rem- 
nants of good being still left in human nature. For most cer- 
tainly a good and upright and perfect will, well-pleasing to 
God, obedient to God, confiding in the Creator, and righteously 
using all his creatures with thanksgiving, is wholly lost. So 
that our fallen will makes out of God a devil and dreads the 
very mention of his name ; especially when hard pressed under 
his judgments. Are these things, I pray you, proofs that hu- 
man nature is whole and uncorrupted? 

But consider the state of those inferior things to these that 
pertain unto God himself. The marriage union of male and fe- 
male is an institution appointed of God. How is that union pol- 
luted by the fall and by sin ! With what fury of lust is the flesh 
'nflamed! By means of sin therefore this divinely appointed 
union has lost all its beauty and glory as a work of God, and is 



defiled with pollutions, corruptions and sins innumerable. In 
like manner also we have a body; but how miserable, how 
variously deformed by sin. It no longer retains the dignity 
of nakedness, but requires careful and perpetual coverings of 
its shame. 

So also we possess a will and a power of reason. But with 
what multiplied corruptions are they vitiated ! For as our rea- 
son is beclouded with great and varied ignorance, so our will 
also is not only greatly warped by self-will, and not only averse 
to God, but the enemy of God ! It rushes with pleasure into 
evil, when it ought to be doing quite the contrary. 

This multiform corruption of nature therefore ought not only, 
not to be extenuated, hut to be as much as possible magnified., 
It ought to be shown that man is not only fallen from the image' 
of God, from the knowledge of God, from the knowledge of all 
other creatures, and from all the dignity and glory of his naked- 
ness, into ignorance of God, into blasphemies against God, and 
into hatred and contempt of God; but that he is fallen even 
into enmity against God ; to say nothing at the present time 
of that tyranny of Satan to which our nature has by sin made 
itself the basest slave. These things, I say, are not to be ex- 
tenuated, but to be magnified by every possible description of 
them; because if the magnitude of our disease be not fully 
known, we shall never know nor desire the remedy. More- 
over the more you extenuate sin, the less you make grace to 
be valued. 

And there is nothing which can tend to amplify and magnify 
the nature and extent of original sin more fully and appropri- 
ately than the words of Moses himself, when he says, that Adam 
and Eve were both naked, and were not ashamed. No polluted 
lust was excited by the sight of each other's nakedness. But 
the one looking on the other saw and acknowledged the good- 
ness of God. They both rejoiced in God, and both felt secure 
in the goodness of God. Whereas now, we not only cannot 
feel ourselves free from sin ; not only do not feel ourselves se- 
cure in the goodness of God, but labor under hatred of God and 



despair of his goodness and mercy. Such a horrihle state of 
the fall as this clearly proves how far nature is from being in 
any degree sound and whole. 

But with how much greater impudence still do our human 
reasoners make this their affirmation of there being still left 
something sound and whole, in the nature of the devil 1 For 
in the devil there is a greater enmity, hatred and rage against 
God than in man. But the devil was not created thus evil. 
He had a will conformed to the will of God. This will how- 
ever he lost, and he lost also that most beautiful and most lucid 
intellect with which he was endowed, and he was converted 
into a horrible spirit, filled with rage against his Creator. Must 
not that have been then a most awful corruption, which trans- 
formed a friend of God into the most bitter and determined 
enemy of God ? 

But here human reasoners bring forward that sentence of 
Aristotle, "Reason prays for the best." And they attempt to 
confirm it by passages from the Scriptures and by the opinions 
of philosophers, who hold that right reason is the cause of all 
virtues. Now I deny not that these sentiments are true, when 
they are applied to things subject to reason ; such as the man- 
agement of cattle, the building of a house, and the sowing of a 
field. But in the higher and divine things, they are not true. 
l T or how can that reason be said to be right, which hates God? 
How can that will be said to be good, which resists the will of 
God and refuses to obey God ? 

When therefore men say with Aristotle, "Reason prays for 
the best," reply thou to them, Yes ! Reason prays for the best, 
humanly; that is, in things in which reason has a judgment. 
In such things, reason dictates and leads to what is good and 
useful in a human, bodily or carnal sense. But since reason is 
filled with ignorance of God and aversion to the will of God, 
how can reason be called good in this sense? For it is a well 
known fact, that when the knowledge of God is preached with 
the intent that reason may be restored, then those who are the 
best men, if I may so speak, and men of the best kind of reason 



and will, are those who the most bitterly hate the gospel. 

In the sacred matter of divinity therefore let our sentiments 
be, that reason in all men stands as the greatest enemy against 
God ; and also that the best will in men is most adverse to the 
will of God; seeing that from this very source arise hatred of 
the Word and persecution of all godly ministers. Wherefore, 
as I said, let us never extenuate, but rather magnify that 
mighty evil, which human nature has derived from the sin of 
our first parents; then will the effect be that we shall deplore 
this our fallen state and cry and sigh unto Christ our great 
Physician, who was sent unto us by the Father for the very end 
that those evils, which Satan has inflicted on us through sin, 
might by him be healed, and that wc might be restored unto 
that eternal glory, which by sin we had lost. 

But with reference to the part of sacred history which Moses 
describes in this chapter, I have already expressed my mind; 
namely, that this temptation took place on the Sabbath day. 
For Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day ; Adam ear- 
lier in the day and Eve in the evening. On the following day, 
the Sabbath day, Adam spoke to his wife Eve concerning the 
will of God ; informing her that the most gracious Lord had 
created all paradise for the use and pleasure of men ; that he 
had also created by his especial goodness the tree of life, by 
the use of which the powers of their bodies might be restored, 
and continued in perpetual youth; but that one tree, the tree 
of the knowledge of good and evil, was prohibited; of which 
it was not lawful for them to eat; and that this obedience to 
their merciful Creator they were solemnly bound to render. 
After Adam had communicated this information to Eve, he 
perhaps led her about in paradise and showed her the prohibit- 
ed tree. Thus did Adam and Eve in their original innocence 
and righteousness, full of safety and security through their 
confidence in their God so good and so merciful, walk about 
together in paradise ; considering together the word and the 
command of God ; and blessing their God on the Sabbath day 
as they ought to do. But in the midst of all this happiness, 



Oh ! the grief ! Satan enters, and within a few hours destroys 
all, as we shall in this chapter hear. 

Here again is poured forth a whole sea of questions. For 
curious men inquire, why God permitted so much to Satan as 
to tempt Eve? They ask also, why Satan employed the serpent 
in his temptation of Eve, rather than any other beast of the cre- 
ation. But who shall render a reason for those things, which 
he sees the Divine Majesty to have permitted to be done? Why 
do we not rather say with Job, that God cannot be called to an 
account, and that none can compel him to render unto us his 
own reasons for all those things which he does or permits to 
be done. Why do we not on the same ground expostulate with 
God, because the grass is not green and the trees are not in 
leaf all the year round now as in the beginning. For I fully be- 
lieve, that in paradise, had the state of original innocency con- 
tinued, there would have been a perpetual spring without any 
winter or frost or snow, as they now exist since the fall and its 
sin. All these things depend wholly on the will and power 
of God. This is enough for us to know. To inquire into these 
things farther than this is impious curiosity. Wherefore let 
us, the clay of his hands, cease to inquire into and dispute about 
such things as these, which belong alone to the will of our Pot- 
ter! Let us not judge our God, but rather leave ourselves to 
be judged by him. 

The answer therefore to all such questions and arguments 
ought to be this : It pleased God that Adam should be put un- 
der peril and trial, that he might exercise his powers. Just as 
now, when we are baptized and translated into the kingdom of 
Christ, God will not have us to be at case. He will have his 
Word and his gifts to be exercised by us. Therefore he per- 
mits us, weak creatures, to be put into the sieve of Satan. 
Hence it is that we see the church, when made clean by the 
Word, to be put under perpetual peril and trial. The Sacra- 
mentarians, the Anabaptists and other fanatical teachers, who 
harass the church with various trials, are stirred up against her, 
to which great trials are also added internal vexations. All 



these things are permitted of God to take place, not however 
because it is his intention to forsake his church or to suffer her 
to perish. But as wisdom says, all these conflicts are brought 
upon the church and upon the godly, that they might overcome 
Lhem ; and thus learn by actual sight and experience that wis- 
dom is more powerful than all things. 

Another question is here raised, on which we may dispute 
perhaps with less peril and with greater profit : Why the Scrip- 
ture speaks of this matter thus obscurely and does not openly 
say, that one of the fallen angels entered into the serpent and 
through the serpent spoke to Eve and deceived her? But to 
this I reply, that all those things were involved in obscurity, 
that they might be reserved for Christ and for his Spirit, whose 
glory it is to shine throughout the whole world, as the mid- 
day sun, and to open all the mysteries of the Scriptures. As 
this Spirit of Christ dwelt in the prophets, those holy prophets 
understood all such mysteries of the Word. We have said 
above however that as the beasts of the creation had each dif- 
ferent gifts, so the serpent excelled all other creatures in the 
gift of guile, and therefore it was the best adapted for this 
stratagem of Satan. 

Of this peculiarity in the serpent the present text of Moses is 
an evident proof; for he says at the opening of this chapter, 
"Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field 
which Jehovah God had made." We marvel even now at the 
gift of insidious cunning in the fox, and also at its astonishing 
ingenuity in escaping danger. For sometimes when closely 
pursued by the dogs and quite worn out and ready to drop with 
exhaustion, it will hold up its tail ; and while the dogs stop their 
course with the intent of rushing with all their force to seize it, 
the fox with marvelous celerity secures a little advantage 
ground and thus escapes their capture. There are also other 
beasts whose remarkable sagacity and industry surprise us ; but 
subtilty was the peculiar natural property of the serpent, and 
therefore it seemed to Satan to be the instrument best adapted 
for his deception of Eve. 



V. lb. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, 
Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden? 

Human reasoners dispute also concerning the nature of this 
temptation, as to what it really was ; whether our first parents 
sinned by idolatry or by pride or by self-security or simply by 
eating the fruit. But if we consider these things a little more 
carefully, as we ought to do, we shall rind that this tempta- 
tion was the most awful and the most bitter of all temptations. 
Because the serpent attacked the good will of God itself, and 
endeavored to prove by this very prohibition from the tree of 
life that the will of God toward man was not good. The ser- 
pent therefore attacks the image of God itself. He assails 
those highest and most perfect powers, which in the newly-cre- 
ated nature of Adam and Eve were as yet uncorrupted. He 
aims at overturning that highest worship of God, which God 
himself had just ordained. In vain therefore do we dispute 
about this sin or that. For Eve is enticed unto all sins at once, 
when she is thus enticed to act contrary to the Word and the 
will of God. 

Moses therefore speaks here most considerately, when he 
uses the expression, "And the serpent said." Here, word 
attacks word. The word which the Lord had spoken to Adam 
was, "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt 
not eat." This Word was to Adam the Gospel, and the law 
thus given was his worship. It was a service and an obedience 
which in this state of innocence Adam was able to render unto 
God. These are the Divine things Satan attacks. These are 
the things he aims at overturning. Nor does he merely intend, 
as those think who know nothing of the matter, to point out 
the tree to Eve and to invite her to pluck the fruit. He does 
indeed point to the tree, but he does something far worse than 
this. He adds another and a new word, as it is his practice to 
do at the present day in the Church. 

For wherever the Gospel is purely preached, there men have 
a sure rule for their faith, and by that they are able to guard 



against idolatry. But there Satan plies temptations of every 
kind, and lie tries by what means he can the most effectually to 
draw men away from the Word, or how he can most completely 
corrupt the Word itself. Thus in the Greek Church also, in the 
time of the apostles, heresies of every kind were stirred up. 
One heretic denies that Christ is the Son of God. Another 
denies that he is the Son of Mary, just as the anabaptists of our 
day impiously deny that Christ assumed anything of the flesh 
of Mary. So again in the times of Basil more particularly, men 
attempted to deny that the Holy Ghost is God. 

Our own age in like manner has witnessed the same examples 
of heresies. For no sooner had a purer doctrine of the Gospel 
shone upon us, than assailants of the works and Word of God 
of every kind rose up on every side. Not however that temp- 
tations of other kinds cease. For Satan still tempts to whore- 
dom, to adultery and to other like great sins. But this tempta- 
tion, when Satan attacks the Word and the works of God, is by 
far the heaviest and most dangerous; and that temptation the 
most intimately concerns the Church and the saints. 

It was in this manner therefore that Satan attacked Adam 
and Eve on this solemn occasion. His aim was to tear away 
from them the Word, in order that giving up the Word and 
their confidence in God, they might believe a lie. When this 
takes place what wonder is it if a man afterwards becomes 
proud, a despiser of God, an adulterer or anything else? This 
temptation therefore is the head and chief of all temptations. 
It brings with it the breach and the violation of the whole ten 
commandments. For unbelief is the fountain-source of all sins. 
When Satan has brought a man under this temptation and has 
wrested from him or corrupted in his heart the Word, he may 
do anything with him. 

Thus when Eve had suffered the Word to be beaten out of 
her heart by a lie, she found no difficulty whatever in approach- 
ing the tree and plucking from it the fruit. It is foolish there- 
fore to think of this temptation, as the sophists and the monks 
think of it ; that Eve, when she had looked upon the tree, began 


to be inflamed by degrees with the desire of plucking the fruit ; 
until at last, overcome with the longing for it, she plucked the 
fruit and put it to her mouth. The sum of the whole tempta- 
tion and her fall by it was that she listened to another word. 
and departed from that word which God had spoken to her, 
which was that if she did eat of the tree she should surely die. 
But let us now contemplate the words of Moses in the order in 
which we find them. 

In the first place Satan here imitates God. For as God had 
preached to Adam, so Satan now also preaches to Eve. For 
perfectly true is that saying of the proverb, "All evil begins in 
the name of God." Just therefore as salvation comes from the 
pure Word of God, so perdition comes from the corrupted 
Word of God. What I term the corrupted Word of God is 
not that only which is corrupted by the vocal ministry, but that 
which is corrupted by the internal persuasions of the heart or 
by opinions of the mind, disagreeing with the Word. 

Moses implies all this in his expression, "He said." For the 
object of Satan was to draw away Eve by his word or saying, 
from that which God had said ; and thus by taking the Word 
of God out of sight, he corrupted that perfection of will which 
man had before; so that man became a rebel. He corrupted 
also his understanding so that he doubted concerning the will 
of God. Upon this immediately followed a rebellious hand, 
stretched forth to pluck the fruit contrary to the command of 
God. Then followed a rebellious mouth and rebellious teeth* 
in a word all evils follow soon upon unbelief or doubt concern- 
in the Word and God. For what can be worse than for a man 
to disobey God, and obey Satan ! 

This very same craft and malice all heretics imitate. Under 
the show of doing good, they wrest from men God and his 
Word. They take the Word away from before their eyes and 
set before them another, and a new word and a new god ; a god 
which is nowhere, and no god at all. For if you examine the 
words of these men, nothing can be more holy, nothing more 
religious. They call God to witness that they seek with their 



whole heart the salvation of the Churcu. They express their 
utter detestation of all who teach wicked things. They profess 
their great desire to spread the name and the glory of God. 
But why should I enlarge? They wish to appear to be anything 
but the devil's teachers or heretics. And yet, their one whole 
aim is to suppress the true doctrine and to obscure the knowl- 
edge of God. And when they have done this, the fall of their 
listeners is easily enough effected. 

For unwary men suffer themselves to be drawn away from 
the Word to dangerous disputations, Rom. 14:1. Not content 
with the Word, they begin to inquire why and for what reason 
these and those things were done. And just as Eve, when she 
listened to the devil, calling the command of God into doubt 
fell ; so it continually happens that we, by listening to him, are 
brought to doubt whether God is willing that we, when heav- 
ily oppressed with sin and death, should be saved by Christ; 
and thus, being misled and deceived, we suffer ourselves to be 
induced to put on cowls and cloaks in order that we may be 
crowned of God with salvation on account of our works of 

Thus before men are aware, another and a new god is set 
before them by Satan ; for he also sets a word before us ; but 
not that Word which is set before us of God, who declareth that 
repentance and remission of sins should be preached unto all 
men in the name of Christ, Luke 24:47. When the Word of 
God is in this manner altered and corrupted, then, as Moses 
says, in his song, "there arc brought in among us new gods, 
newly come up whom our fathers knew not, and feared not," 
Deut. 32 117. 

It is profitable to be well acquainted with these snares of 
Satan. For if he were to teach men that they might commit 
murder and fornication, and might resist their parents, etc., 
who is there who would not immediately see that he was per- 
suading them to do things forbidden by the Lord? And thus 
it would be easy to guard against him. But in the case of 
which we are speaking, when he sets before us another word, 



when he disputes with us concerning the will and willingness 
of God, when he brings before our eyes the name of God, and 
of the church, and of the people of God, then we cannot so 
easily be on our guard against him. On the contrary there is 
need of the firmest judgment of the spirit to enable us to dis- 
tinguish between the true God and the new god. 

It is such judgment as this that Christ exercises, when Satan 
attempts to persuade him to command that the stones be made 
bread, and to cast himself down from the pinnacle of the Tem- 
ple. For Satan's aim was to persuade Christ to attempt some- 
thing without the Word. But the Tempter could not deceive 
Christ as he had deceived Eve. For Christ holds fast the Word 
and does not suffer himself to be drawn away from the true 
God to the new and false god. Hence unbelief and doubting, 
which follow a departure from the Word, are the fountain and 
source of all sin. And it is because the world is full of these 
that it remains in idolatry, denies the truth of God and forms 
to itself new gods. 

The monk is an idolator. For his imaginations arc that if 
he lives according to the rule of Francis or Dominic, he shall 
be in the way to the kingdom of God. But this is making a new 
god, and becoming an idolator. Because the true God declares 
that the way to the kingdom of heaven is believing in Christ. 
When this faith is lost therefore unbelief and idolatry imme- 
diately enter in, which transfer the glory of God to works. 
Thus the Anabaptists, the Sacramentarians and the Papists are 
all idolators ! Not because they worship stocks and stones, 
but because, leaving the Word of God, they worship their own 

The portion of the Scripture therefore now before us is de- 
signed to teach us that the beginning of original sin was this 
effectual temptation of the devil, when he had drawn Eve away 
from the Word to idolatry, contrary to the first and second 
and third commandments. Therefore the words stand here, 
"Yea, hath God said ?" It is horrible audacity for the devil to 
represent a new god and deny the former true and eternal God 

J 36 


with the utmost self-confidence. It is as if the devil had said, 
"Ye must be fools indeed if ye believe that God really gave you 
such a commandment. For God is by no means such a God as 
to be so greatly concerned whether ye eat the fruit or eat it not. 
For as the tree is 'the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ;' 
how, think ye, he can be so filled with envy as to be unwilling 
that ye should be wise !" 

Moreover this inexpressible malice fully proves that, 
although Moses makes mention of the serpent only and not of 
Satan, Satan was the real contriver of the whole transaction. 
And although these things had been thus involved in obscurity 
in this sacred history of them, yet the holy fathers and proph- 
ets, under the illumination of the Holy Spirit, at once saw that 
this temptation was not the work of the serpent, but that there 
was in the serpent that spirit, which was the enemy of Adam's 
innocent nature ; even the spirit, concerning whom Christ plain- 
ly declares in the Gospel, "that he abode not in the truth ; and 
that he was a murderer and a liar from the beginning," Luke 
8 144. It was left however, as we have said, for the Gospel to 
explain these things more clearly and to make manifest this 
enemy of God and of men. But the fathers saw all this by 
the following mode of reasoning: It is certain that at the time 
of the temptation all creatures stood in perfect obedience, ac- 
cording to the sentence of Moses, "And God saw everything 
that he had made and, behold, it was very good." But here in 
the serpent, such a spirit manifests himself who proves to be 
the enemy of God and who corrupts the Word of God, that he 
might draw away man into sin and death. 

It is manifest therefore that there was something, some spirit 
in the serpent, far worse than the serpent itself by nature; a 
spirit which might properly be called the enemy of God; a 
spirit that was a liar and a murderer; a spirit in whom there 
was the greatest and the most horrible and reckless unconcern ; 
a spirit which trembled not to corrupt the commandment of 
God and to tempt man to idolatry; though he knew by that act 
of idolatry the whole human race must perish. These things 



are truly horrible when they are viewed by us aright. And 
we see even now examples of the same security and unconcern 
in Papists and other sects ; an unconcern by which they corrupt 
the Word of God and seduce men. 

Eve at first nobly resisted the Tempter. For as yet she was 
guided by the illumination of that Holy Spirit, of whom we 
have spoken, and by whom she knew that man was created per- 
fect and in the likeness of God. At length however she suf- 
fered herself to be persuaded and overcome. 

With respect to the fall of the angels, it is uncertain on which 
day the fall took place ; whether on the second or on the third 
day. This only can be proved, and that is known from the 
Gospel, namely, that Satan fell from Heaven, for Christ him- 
self testifies of the manner of the fall, where he says, "I beheld 
Satan as lightning fall from heaven," Luke 10:18. But 
whether the heavens were then "finished" or yet in their rude 
unformed state, we know not. The discussion of this point 
however belongs not to our present exposition of the passage 
before us. Our present duty is to contemplate the extreme 
malice here disclosed, joined with the most horrible unconcern. 
For this spirit trembles not to call the commandment of the 
divine majesty into doubt; though he fully knew all the time, 
what an awful calamity must thereby fall upon the whole 
human race. 

In the second place the wonderful subtlety here exercised is 
especially to be considered, which is discovered first in this: 
that Satan attacks the highest powers of man and assails the 
very image of God in him; namely, his will, which as yet 
thought and judged aright concerning God. "Now the ser- 
pent was more subtle," says our text, "than any beast of the 
field, which Jehovah God had made." But the subtlety man- 
ifested in this instance far exceeded all the natural subtlety of 
the serpent. For Satan here disputes with man concerning 
the Word and the will of God. This the serpent in his natural 
state and condition could not do; for in that, he was subject 
to the "dominion" of man. But the spirit which spoke in the 

2 3 8 


serpent is so subtle that he overcomes man and persuades him 
to eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree. It is not therefore a 
creature of God, in his created good state, that here speaks; 
but it is a spirit, who is the bitterest enemy of God and of men ; 
a spirit, who is indeed a creature of God, but not created thus 
evil by God. It is a creature, who abode not in the truth; as 
Christ says, John 8 44. These facts are consequences, plainly 
resulting- from the Gospel and from the text of Moses before 

The subtlety which we are contemplating is seen also from 
the stratagem of Satan in attacking the weak part of human 
nature; namely Eve, the woman ; and not Adam, the man. For 
although both of them were created equally righteous, yet 
Adam excelled Eve. For as in all the endowments of nature, 
the male strength exceeds that of the female sex, so in the 
state of the innocency and perfection of human nature, the 
male in some degree excelled the female. Hence Satan, seeing 
that Adam was the more excellent creature, dared not attack 
him ; for he had fears lest his attempts should fail. And my 
belief is that if he had attempted Adam first, Adam would 
have had the victory. He would more likely have crushed the 
serpent with his foot, and would have said to him, "Hold 
your tongue. The Lord hath commanded otherwise." Satan 
therefore attacks Eve as the weaker part, and tries her strength. 
For he sees that she has so much trust in, and dependence on, 
her husband, that she will not think it possible that she should 
be persuaded to do wrong after what her husband had told her. 

By this portion of the sacred record we are also instructed 
concerning the divine permission ; that God sometimes permits 
the devil to enter into beasts, as he here entered into the ser- 
pent. For there can be no doubt that the serpent, in the as- 
sumption of whose form Satan talked with Eve was a 
real and natural serpent. But when men enter into discussions 
whether this serpent assumed on that occasion a human coun- 
tenance, etc., all such discussions are absurd. The creature was 
doubtless a most beautiful serpent in its natural state; other- 



wise Eve would not have conversed with it so securely. After 
the sin of the fall however that beauty of the serpent was 
changed. For God's rebuke to him declares that hereafter "he 
should go upon his belly on the ground." Whereas before, he 
walked upright, as the. male fowl. God also declares "that he 
should eat dust," whereas before, he fed upon better food, even 
upon the productions of the earth. Nay, even the original 
security of man with the serpent is lost. We flee from serpents 
at the sight of them, as they also flee from us. 

These are all wounds, which have been inflicted on nature on 
account of sin; just in the same way we have lost the glory of 
our nakedness, the rectitude of our will and the soundness of 
our intellect and understanding. I believe also, that the ser- 
pent lost much of his subtlety, which Moses here lauds, as a 
distinguishing gift of God. Moreover, I believe that in the 
same proportion as the serpent is now an evil creature amidst 
the beasts, so it was then a good creature ; and a blessed and 
lovely creature; a creature with which not man only, but all 
the other beasts also, lived in perfect freedom and with great 
pleasure. The serpent therefore was a creature, the best adapt- 
ed of all the other living creatures for the purpose of Satan. 
By it he could secure the most easy access to Eve, and could 
the most effectually converse with her so as to draw her into 

Such is my opinion concerning the natural serpent, the 
beautiful nature of which Satan planned thus to abuse. I be- 
lieve it was originally a most beautiful creature, without any 
poison in its tail and without those filthy scales with which it 
is now covered. For these grew upon it after the sin of the fall. 
Hence we find it a precept given by Moses that any beast, 
which should kill any person, should itself immediately be 
killed, Exod. 21:28; and for no other reason than because 
Satan sinned by using a beast when he murdered man. Hence 
also a serpent is killed wherever found, as a lasting memorial 
of this diabolical malice and this fall of man, wrought by his 



With reference to the grammatical expression, here used, 
the Latan interpreter renders the Hebrew aphki by cur. 
Though this rendering is not very wide of the real sense of the 
passage, yet it does not convey the true and proper meaning. 
For it is the highest and greatest of all temptations, when a 
dispute is entered upon, concerning the counsel of God, why 
God did this or that. But my judgment is, that the weight of 
the matter does not rest on this particle of expression why? or 
wherefore? But rather on the name God, elohim. It is this 
that constitutes the greatness and awfulness of the temptation. 

It is as if Satan had said, "Ye must be foolish indeed if ye 
suppose that God could possibly be unwilling that ye should 
eat of this tree when he had himself given you 'dominion' 
over all the trees of paradise; nay, when he had positively 
created all the trees for your sakes. How can he, who bestowed 
as a free favor all things upon you, possible envy you these 
particular fruits, which are so sweet and so pleasant !" For 
Satan's whole aim is to devise a means of drawing them away 
from the Word and from the knowledge of God, and to bring 
them to conclude that what they had stated was not really the 
will of God, and that such was not really what God had com- 
manded them. That this is the true sense of the whole divine, 
passage, that which follows tends to prove; when Satan says, 
"Ye shall not surely die." For all the stratagems of Satan 
centre in this one : — to draw men away from the Word, and 
from faith unto a new and false god. 

And this same plan of Satan all fanatical spirits follow. 
Hence, Arius reasons and inquires, Do you really think that 
Christ is God, when he himself says, "My Father is greater 
than I?" In the same manner also the Sacramentarians ask, 
Do you really think that the bread is the body and the wine the 
blood of Christ? Christ most certainly had no thoughts so 
absurd. When men begin thus to indulge their own cogita- 
tions, they by degrees depart from the Word and fall into 

Since therefore, the whole force of the temptation was in 



leading Eve to doubt whether God really did say so; it is a 
more correct rendering to leave the emphasis resting on the 
name of God. The leaving it to rest on the interrogative par- 
ticle, why? takes away from the peculiar force of the mean- 
ing. In tny judgment therefore the passage will be best ren- 
dered by making the emphasis to rest on the not. Hath God said 
that ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? For Satan's 
real aim is, not to set up an inquiry why God said this. His 
object is to bring Eve to conclude that God had positively not 
so commanded, in order that by bringing her to this con- 
clusion he might wrest from her the Word. Satan saw that 
the reasoning power of Eve might in this way be the most ef- 
fectually deceived, if he drew away from her sight and judg- 
ment the Word of God, under the very name of God. And he 
thinks the same still. 

This question of Satan js full of insidious deception. He 
does not speak particularly, but generally; he includes in his 
interrogation, all the trees of the garden together. As if he had 
said, "You have committed unto you an universal 'dominion' 
over all the beasts of the earth ; and do you really suppose that 
God, who has thus given you 'dominion' over all the beasts of 
the earth, has not given you the same dominion over all the 
trees of the earth? Why, you ought rather to think that as 
God has put under you the whole earth and all the beasts of the 
earth; so he has also granted you the use of all things which 
grow upon the earth." This is indeed the very height and 
depth of temptation. Satan here endeavors to gain over the 
mind of Eve to liis purpose, by artfully drawing her into the 
conclusion that God is never unlike; himself ; and that therefore 
if God had given them universal dominion over all the other 
creatures, he had given them universal dominion over all the 
trees also. From this therefore it would naturally follow that 
the commandment not to eat of the tree of life, was not the 
commandment of God ; or that if it were his commandment, 
it was not so to be understood that he really wished them not 
to eat of that tree. 

2 4 2 


Wherefore this temptation was a double temptation, by 
which as a twofold means Satan aimed at the same end. The 
one part of the temptation is, "God hath not said this, therefore 
ye may eat of this tree." The second branch of this awful 
temptation is, "God hath given unto you all things ; therefore 
all tilings are yours ; and therefore this tree is not forbidden 
you, etc., etc." Now, both branches of this temptation are 
directed to the same object ; to draw Eve away from the Word 
and from faith. For this commandment concerning not eating 
of this tree of knowledge, which God gave to Adam and to 
Eve, proves that Adam with his posterity, had they continued 
in their original innocency, would have lived in that perfection 
of nature by faith, until he and they had been translated from 
this corporeal life unto the life spiritual and eternal. For 
wherever the Word is, there of necessity is faith also. For the 
Word was this, "Of the tree of the knowledge, etc., thou shalt 
not eat, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely 
die." Adam and Eve must therefore have believed that this 
tree involved in it something perilous to their salvation. There- 
fore in this very Word of commandment, faith also is included. 
We, who are designed to be transferred from this state of 
sin to a state of eternal righteousness, also live by faith. But 
we have a Word, different from that which Adam had in his 
state of nature's innocence and perfection. For he was de- 
signed to be transferred simply from a state of animal life to 
that of a spiritual and eternal life. Wherefore this tree, as I 
have before observed, was intended of God to be a temple as it 
were in the midst of paradise, in which the Word God spoke 
to Adam might be preached. The substance of this Word was, 
that all the other trees of paradise were healthful and to be 
eaten ; but that this tree of knowledge, involved in it the danger 
of destruction ; and that therefore they should learn to obey 
God and his Word, and to render unto God his worship, by 
not eating of this tree, seeing that God had forbidden them to 
eat of this particular tree. 

In this manner therefore nature, in its uncorrupt and perfect 


state, even while it possessed the knowledge of God, had yet 
a Word or precept of God, above the comprehension of Adam, 
which he was called upon to believe. And this Word or precept 
was delivered to man in his state of innocency, that Adam 
might have a sign or form of worshipping God, of giving him 
thanks, and of instructing his children in this knowledge of 
God. Now the devil, beholding this and knowing that this 
Word or precept of God was above the understanding of man, 
plies Eve with his temptation and draws her into thinking, 
whether this really was the commandment and will of God. And 
this is the very origin of all temptation; when the reason of 
man attempts to judge concerning the Word and God without 
the Word. 

Now the will of God was that this his precept should be uuto 
man an occasion of his obedience and of his external worship of 
God ; and that this tree should be a sign, by means of which 
man should testify that he did obey God. But Satan by setting 
on foot the doubtful disputation, whether God really did give 
such a commandment, endeavors to draw man away from this 
obedience into sin. Here the salvation of Eve consisted solely 
in her determinately urging the commandment of God, and not 
suffering herself to be drawn aside into other disputations, 
whether God really had given such a commandment. And 
whether as God had created all things for man's sake, it could 
be possible that this one tree only was created, containing some- 
thing incomprehensible and dangerous to man's salvation. It 
seems indeed unto men, to be a show of wisdom, to inquire 
into these things more curiously than is lawful. But as soon as 
the mind begins to indulge in such disputations, man is lost. 
But now let us hear the answer Eve makes to Satan : 

Vs. 2, 3. And the woman said unto the serpent : Of the 
fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but of the fruit of 
the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, 
Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest perchance 
ye die. 

Eve's beginnings are successful enough. She makes a dis- 



tinction between all the other trees of the garden and this tree. 
She rehearses the commandment of God. But when she comes 
to relate also the punishment, she fails. She does not relate the 
punishment, as it had been declared by the Lord. The Lord 
had said, absolutely, "For in the day that thou eatest thereof, 
thou shall surely die," Gen. 2:18. Out of this absolute de- 
claration, Eve makes an expression, not absolute, "Lest per- 
chance ye should die." 

This defect in the statement of Eve is very remarkable, and 
demands particular observation; for it proves that she had 
turned aside from faith to unbelief. For as the promise of 
God demands faith, so the threatening of God demands faith 
also. Eve ought to have made her statement as a fact, and a 
certainty. "If I eat, I shall surely die." Tins faith however 
Satan so assails, with his insidious speech, as to induce Eve to 
add the expression, "perchance." For the devil had effectually 
persuaded her to think that God surely was not so cruel as to 
kill her for merely tasting a fruit. Hence the heart of Eve 
was now filled with the poison of Satan. 

This text therefore is also by no means properly translated 
in our version. The meaning of the original Hebrew is that 
Eve speaks her own words; whereas she is ostensibly reciting 
the Word of God ; and that she adds to the Word of God her 
own expression, "perchance." Wherefore the artifice of the 
lying spirit has completely succeeded. For the object which he 
especially had in view; namely, to draw Eve away from the 
Word and from faith; he has now so far accomplished, as to 
cause Eve to corrupt the Word of God ; or, to use the ex- 
pression of Paul, "he has turned her aside from the will of 
God, and caused her to go after Satan", 1 Tim. 5 :i5_ And the 
beginning of certain ruin is to be turned aside from God, and to 
be turned after Satan ; that is, not to stand firmly in the Word 
and in faith. When Satan therefore sees this beginning in Eve, 
he plies against her his whole power as against a bowing wall, 
until she falls prostrate on the ground. 

Vs. 4, 5. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall 


2 45 

not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye cat there- 
of, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, 
knowing good and evil. 

This is the satanic rhetoric adopted by the tempter to pros- 
trate utterly a poor weak woman ; when he sees her turning 
away from God and inclined to listen to another teacher. l!e- 
fore, when he said in his satanic insidiousness, "Hath God, in- 
deed, thus commanded you?" he did not positively deny the 
Word. He only attempted by speaking in the form of a question 
to draw Eve aside into doubting. But now, having fully accom- 
plished his first point, he begins with daring presumption to 
deny the Word of God altogether, and to charge God himself 
with falsehood and cruelty. He is not now content with having 
caused Eve to add her expression, "perchance." Out of the 
"perchance," he now makes a plain and positive denial : "Yc 
shall not surely die." 

We here witness therefore what a horrible thing it is when 
Satan once begins to tempt a man. For then ruin causes ruin 
and that which was at first apparently a trifling offense against 
God, ends eventually in a mighty destruction. It was an awful 
step into sin for Eve to turn from God and his Word and to 
lend her ears to Satan. lint this her next step is more awful ; 
for she now agrees with Satan, while he charges God with 
falsehood, and as it were smites him in the face. Eve there- 
fore now is no longer the woman merely turned away from 
God, as in the first stage of her temptation. She now begins 
to join Satan in his contempt of God and in his denial of the 
truth of his Word. She now believes the father of lies, directly 
contrary to the Word of God. 

Let these things therefore be to us a solemn Lesson and a 
terrible proof, to teach us what man is ! For if these things 
occurred in nature, while it was yet in its state of perfection, 
what shall we think may become of us ! We have proofs, even 
now, before our eyes. Many, who at the commencement of 
our course gave thanks with us unto God for his revealed Word, 
are not only fallen away from it, but are become our bitterest 



adversaries ! 

Thus it was also with the Arians. No sooner had they 

begun to fall away from faith in the divinity of the Son, than 
they quickly grew into a violent enmity against him. So that 
they became the bitter enemies of the true Church and per- 
secuted her with the greatest cruelty. Precisely the same 
examples of ultimate rage against the truth have we witnessed 
also in the Anabaptists. They were all led away from the 
Word, and tempted to use the doubtful expression, "per- 
chance." Shortly after Satan drove them to turn the doubting 
"perchance" into a positive "not," "God hath not said," etc. 
Then from forsakers of God, they became the open persecutors 
of God, imitating in this their father, Satan ; who after he had 
fallen from heaven by sin became the most bitter enemy of 
Christ and his church. Nor are examples of the very same 
description few in our day. For we have no enemies more 
bitter against us than those who have fallen away from the 
doctrine they once professed with us. And from this very 
sin that awful description which David has given us of the 
"fool" arose, Ps. 14:1 : "The fool hath said in his heart there 
is no God." For those thus fallen are not satisfied with having 
turned away from God, unless they have become the assailants 
also of God himself and of his Word. 

Wherefore there is absolutely need that we abide by this rule, 
and moor ourselves to this sacred anchor as it were through 
life. Since it is agreed for a certainty that the Word, which we 
possess and confess, is the Word of God, we should assent and 
cleave to it with all simplicity of faith and not dispute con- 
cerning it with curious inquiry. For all inquiring and curious 
disputation bring with them most certain ruin. 

Thus for instance we have the plain and manifest Word of 
Christ concerning the Lord's Supper, when he says concern- 
ing the bread, "This is my body, which is given for you," 
Luke 22:19. And concerning the cup, "This cup is the New 
Covenant in my blood", 1 Cor. n 125. When therefore fanatics 
depart from faith in these plain words, and fall into disputing 



how these things can be, they by degrees stray so far, as 
positively to deny that these are the words of Christ, and at 
length they fiercely fight against them. Just as it befell Eve, 
as recorded in the passage of Moses now before us. 

Exactly after the same manner, when Arius began to think 
about God and to conclude by his own reason that God was a 
most positive and absolute unity, he at first fell upon this pro- 
position, "Perhaps Christ is not God." Then he carried the 
accumulation of his absurdities so far, as plainly to conclude, 
and to defend his conclusion, that "Christ is not God." It 
moved him not at all, that John plainly declares, "The Word 
was God," John 1 :i ; that Christ commands men to be bap- 
tized "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the 
Holy Ghost," Math. 28:19; and that we arc called upon to 
believe in Christ, to worship him and to pray unto him, Acts 
I 3 : 39! Ps- 977- And yet, what absurdity can be greater than 
that we should take upon ourselves to judge God, since our 
condition is to be judged by him and by him alone? 

Wherefore our duty is to stand by and persevere in this 
principle : that, when we hear God say anything, we believe it, 
and not dispute about it; but that on the contrary we bring 
our intellect and every thought into captivity unto Christ. 

We may therefore appropriately cite the words of the pro- 
phet Isaiah, "If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be 
established," Is. 7:9. For if we should inquire and inquire 
until we burst with curiosity, yet we shall never understand 
how the eye sees, nor how the ear hears, nor what the soul is, 
etc. And yet, all these things arc a part of us, and we use 
them every day and every moment in all our actions. How then 
shall we understand those things which exceed all our faculties 
and senses, and are found in the Word of God alone? Hence 
it is found in the Word alone, that the ordained bread is 
the body of Christ, and that the ordained wine is the blood 
of Christ. These things it is our duty to believe, not to un- 
derstand; for understand them we cannot. 

In like manner too the words of God in the present passage 



of Moses were most simple and plain, ''Of the fruit of the tree 
which is in the midst of the garden ye shall not eat." But 
in those words reason did not understand the mind of God, why 
he willed these things so to be. When therefore Eve, not 
content with the command of the Lord which she had heard, 
began curiously to inquire into it, she perished. This temptation 
therefore is a true example of all those temptations, in which 
Satan assaults the Word and faith. Before the desire of eat- 
ing 1 the fruit came to Eve, she had let go the word which God 
spoke to Adam. Had she held fast this Word, she would 
have stood in the reverence of God and in faith. On the other 
hand, no sooner had she let go the Word, than contempt of 
God entered ; and then followed obedience to the devil. 

It is profitable for us to learn these things and to know 
them. Hence it is that Peter admonishes us to stand fast 
under temptation, and to resist the Tempter, keeping fast hold 
of the Word by a firm faith, and keeping our ears shut, so as 
not to listen to anything contrary to the Word, I Pet. 5 :o,. For 
such "sufferings" and temptations of Eve are most truly "les- 
sons" to us ; that we suffer not the same things, by being drawn 
aside from the Word and faith, as she was. 

That which follows in our text, "For God doth know that 
your eyes shall be opened," may be taken in a twofold sense. 
We may either understand Satan to have thus spoken, for the 
purpose of exciting an ill-will against God, for having forbid- 
den man to eat of a fruit so good and useful by which means 
Satan would create in Eve the beginning of a hatred towards 
God for not being sufficiently indulgent. Or again, I would 
rather understand the passage, Satan speaks this, as in praise 
of God ; that he may thereby the more easily entrap Eve in 
his deception. As if he had said to her, "Be assured that 
God is not such an one as to wish you and Adam to live in 
darkness as it were without the knowledge of good and evil. 
He is good. He envies you nothing which can in any way 
conduce to your benefit or pleasure. He will be quite satisfied 
and content that you should be like himself, as to the know- 
ledge of good and evil." 



When Satan thus praises God he has the razor fairly in his 
hands, so that he can cut the throat of a man in a moment. 
For the fall of a man is thus rendered by Satan the most easy, 
when the pretext of the Word and the will of God is brought 
in upon the back of that which the lust of the heart desires. 
This is why I would rather understand the words now in ques- 
tion to be spoken by Satan, as intended to persuade Eve, rather 
than to excite in her any hatred toward God. I leave it how- 
ever quite free to you, my hearers, to adopt the sense of the 
passage which pleases you best. The sum of the whole or the 
one aim of Satan, is this: to draw Eve away by all possible 
means from the Word, and to persuade her to do that, which 
had been forbidden by the Word. For Satan is the most bitter 
enemy of the Word of God ; because he knows that our whole 
salvation lies in our obedience to that Word. 

But here an inquiry by no means absurd is raised. How was 
it that Eve did not yet feel her sin? For, although she had 
not yet swallowed the fruit, yet she had sinned against the 
Word and against faith. She had turned away from the Word 
unto a lie and from faith to disbelief ; from God to Satan and 
from the worship of God to idolatry. As this was the sum 
and substance of her sin, for plucking the apple was not the 
sum of her sin, how was it that death did not immediately 
follow? How was it that she did not feel so mighty a sin? 
Nay further how was it, that after she had eaten the fruit, 
she did not feel the death which was the decreed punishment of 
it, before she persuaded Adam to eat of it also? 

The schools dispute much and variously about the superior 
power, and the inferior power of reason. They hold, that 
Adam possessed the superior power of reason, and Eve the 
inferior. We will cast aside all such half-learned and scholas- 
tic arguments and seek the true meaning of the passage, which 
is as follows: 

In the first place the long-suffering of God is great. There- 
fore he does not punish sin immediately. If he did we should 
soon perish. This long-suffering of God Satan ever abuses. 



And it just suits his purpose that man should not immediately 
feel his sin. For because punishment is thus deferred, Satan 
Gils the mind with security and unconcern. So that a man is 
not only kept blind to the fact that he has sinned, but is 
caused to take delight and to glory in his sins. 

All this we behold in the popes and the Papists. If they 
could see with their eyes and hearts the slaughter-house of 
conscience, yea, the perdition into which they bring- men by 
their impious doctrine, they would without doubt change their 
doctrine. But now, Satan so dazzles their eyes as it were with 
his delusions, that they cannot perceive their own judgment 
and the wrath of God which hangs over them. Therefore in 
the very midst of these mighty sins, they live with the greatest 
security, even with gladness and rejoicing, displaying their 
magnificent triumphs as if tlicy had performed the most noble 

This was exactly the case with Eve. By her disbelief she 
rushed from the Word into a lie. Therefore in the eyes of 
God, she was now dead. But as Satan still held under his 
power her heart and eyes, she not only did not see her death, 
but was gradually more and more inflamed with a longing for 
the fruit: and was positively delighted with this her idolatry 
and with her sin. 

Now if Eve had not departed from the Word, thus to look 
upon the fruit with a desire to taste it, it would have been 
to her an abhorrence. But having thus departed, she turns 
over the sin in her mind with gratification. Whereas had 
she before seen any other stretch forth the hand to touch this 
tree, she would have recoiled with horror. But now, she is 
impatient of delay. Sin has hurst forth from her heart, and 
has descended to the lower members of her body, her mouth 
and tongue. This desire and delightful longing therefore to 
eat the fruit are as it were the diseases gendered by the sin 
of her heart from which death follows; though Eve, while 
sinning, feels it not. This is plain from the next portion of the 


25 1 


V. 6. And when the woman saw that the tree was goad for 
food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was 
to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, 
and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and 
he did eat. 

Mark here the manner in which sin diffuses itself through 
all the five senses. For what did Eve neglect that could be 
used in the service of sin when once she had believed Satan 
contrary to the Word of God, and had listened to his lies in 
telling her that she would not surely die, but that her eyes 
would be opened and that she would know both good and evil. 
Her eyes could not be satisfied with seeing. It was nothing 
to her now that she possessed the knowledge of God, and that 
she had a sound and perfect mind. She was not content 
without the addition of the knowledge of evil also. And this 
was the very essence of Satan's poison ; her desire to be wise 
above that which God had spoken to her as his command. 
For such wisdom was death and the very enemy of that wisdom 
of God, which had been delivered to her in his Word. For 
this wisdom caused her to consider that to be righteousness, 
which was really sin, and to look upon that as most desirable 
wisdom which was utter madness. 

The whole point therefore lies in this which the Latin version 
has omitted to express : that the tree was a tree to be desired, 
because it made the eaters thereof wise. And this is the very 
aim of the devil, to cause a man to think his knowledge and 
wisdom the greater, the further he departs from the Word. 

Hence the Sacramentarians think it the sum of all wisdom 
to assert that bread is bread, and that wine is wine ; but that 
bread is not the body, nor wine the blood of Christ. So Arius 
considers that he has carried off the palm of all wisdom, when 
he asserts, from certain Scriptures evilly distorted from their 
manifest sense, that the Logos was indeed before all creatures ; 
but that stiil he was created. In like manner the Anabaptists 



imagine that they trumpet forth the very height of wisdom, when 
they declare aloud witli full-swollen cheeks that water cannot 
reach the soul or the spirit, but that it washes the naked skin 
only, and that therefore baptism avails nothing to the remis- 
sion of sins. Hence we have known fanatical spirits to baptize 
here and there without any water at all, who nevertheless con- 
tinued to boast that they never dissented from us or our doc- 
trine. And truly, this is wisdom. But it is the wisdom of the 
devil ; and directly contrary to the Word and wisdom of God. 
And it is the peculiar and proper temptation of the devil thus 
to render us wise in our own conceits contrary to and above 
the Word of God. Just as he himself was once in heaven, and 
then fell. And this high wisdom is a temptation of his, far 
exceeding in destructive efficacy all the grosser temptations of 
lust, avarice, pride, etc. 

The verb hiskil signifies "to be prudent" or "wise." Hence, 
maskil is "wise" or "prudent," as in Psalm 14:2, "Jehovah 
looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if 
there were any that did understand, that did seek after God." 
And again, Is. 53:11, "By the knowledge of himself, jaskil, 
shall my righteous servant justify many." The word signifies 
properly that wisdom by which God is known and acknowl- 
edged. And Eve had this light or rather this sun of knowledge 
in her heart before she fell ; because she had the Word. And 
she had moreover the knowledge of all the creatures. But 
not content with this wisdom, she wished to mount higher 
and to know God otherwise than he had revealed himself to 
her in his Word. This was her fall. She let go the true 
wisdom, and that being lost, she rushed into utter blindness. 

Just as Satan acted in the garden of Eden, so he acts now. 
God commands us to believe the Gospel of his Son, that we 
may thus be saved. This is true wisdom, as Christ himself 
also affirms : "This is life eternal, that they should know thee, 
the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus 
Christ," John 17 3. This wisdom the monk utterly disregards, 
and turns aside to other things. He puts on a cowl, girds him- 



self with a rope and takes upon him the vow of celibacy ; and 
he thinks that by such means he shall please God and be saved. 
And all this is that sublime wisdom which is exercised in the 
worship of God, and in a great religious observance toward 
him; all of which is the implantation of Satan, engrafted on 
the original sin of our fallen nature ; causing men to turn away 
from the Word of God, which he has himself "set forth", as 
the way of salvation, and to turn aside to following their 
own cogitations. Just like Eve. She was created the wisest 
of all women that ever existed; hut she longed for another 
wisdom contrary to and above the Word ; and on account of 
this newly desired wisdom she fell and sinned, in a multiplicity 
of forms, with all her senses, with her thoughts, with her sight, 
with her desire, with her touch, with her taste, with her whole 

They are not to be listened to, therefore, who argue it was 
cruelty that this nature of ours should be thus miserably cor- 
rupted, sunk under death, and involved in all the other calam- 
ities to which it is subject for the simple act of tasting a certain 
fruit. The Epicureans, indeed, when they hear these things, 
laugh at them as a mere fable. But to a careful reader, 
who duly ponders these recorded facts, it will at once be mani- 
fest that the simple bite of the fruit was not the cause of these 
awful consequences. Such an one will see that the sin com- 
mitted was the cause of the whole calamity which followed, 
even the sin of Eve, which she committed against both tables 
of the law, against God himself and against his Word. For 
her sin was of that description that she cast aside the Word of 
God and gave herself up wholly to Satan, and to his teaching 
as his disciple. 

The greatness and aw fulness of the sin of Eve therefore 
can neither be lessened nor made too great. This greatness 
and awfulness of the sin of Eve are the pregnant causes of all 
the calamitous punishments which we endure. So awful was 
the sin, and so awful the turning away from God! And this 
horrible turning away from God is the great solemn fact which 



our minds ought to contemplate. They ought not to dwell 
upon the mere plucking or swallowing the fruit; for those 
who look upon the act only, and not upon the sin of the heart, 
from which the act proceeded, must naturally be led to accuse 
God of cruelty for having inflicted upon the whole human race 
such terrible punishments for so small and insignificant a sin. 
Such reasoncrs on the matter, therefore, hate God and despair ; 
or like the Epicureans they laugh at the whole matter as a 

What we have to consider therefore is the Word. For that, 
against which Eve sinned, was the Word of God. As great 
therefore as was the Word, so great was the sin which Eve 
committed against the Word. It was under this sin that all na- 
ture fell, and under which it still lies. For, how can nature over- 
come that sin ! It is of a magnitude infinite and inexhaustible. 
Consequently, to overcome this sin there is need of him who 
brings with him an inexhaustible righteousness, even the Son 
of God. 

That Satan knew all this, his subtlety proves. For he does 
not immediately entice Eve with the sweetness of the fruit ; he 
attacks at once the chief strength of man, faith in the Word ! 
The root and source of all sin therefore is disbelief, and turning 
aside from God. Even as, on the contrary, the root and source 
of all righteousness is faith. Satan therefore first of all draws 
Eve aside from faith to unbelief. When he had accomplished 
this and had brought Eve not to believe the Word of God's 
commandment spoken unto her, he had no trouble in accom- 
plishing the rest, in causing her to rush up to the tree, to 
pluck the fruit and cat it. For when sin is ripened in the heart 
by unbelief, the external act of disobedience soon follows. 
This is the manner in which the nature of sin is to be con- 
sidered, namely, according to its true magnitude, under which 
magnitude we are all ruined. Next follows the description of 
sin, with its punishments. 

V. 7- And the eyes of them both mere opened, and they 
knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, 

genesis in. 


and made themselves aprons (girdles). 

I have remarked above that the form of all Satan's tempta- 
tions is the same. He first plies his temptation upon a man's 
faith, and then draws him away from the Word. Upon this 
follow various sins against the second tabic. This procedure 
of Satan we may see plainly manifested in our own experience. 
That which follows therefore in the present chapter, is a par- 
ticular description of sin, what it is in the act, and what it is 
afterwards, when the act is performed. For, while sin is in 
the act, it is not felt. If it were truly felt, we should return 
to the right way, warned by the sorrows which sin ever brings 
upon the sinner. Rut because these sorrows lie hidden, after 
we have departed from integrity of soul and from faith, we 
go on without concern into the act itself. Just as Eve sinned 
in eating the fruit, after she had been persuaded by Satan, con- 
trary to the Word of God, "that she should not die" but that 
the only effects would be, "that her eyes would be opened," and 
that she would become wiser. After she had drunk in this 
poison of Satan through her cars, she stretched forth her 
hand to the forbidden fruit, plucked it and ate it with her 
mouth ; and thus she sinned with all the senses of her mind and 
of her body. And yet she did not even then feel iter sin. She 
ate the fruit with pleasure and entreated her husband also to 
do the same. 

The essential principles are the same in all temptations and 
in all sins, whether of lust, of anger, or avarice, etc. While 
the sin is in the act, it is not felt; it terrifies not, it stings not, 
but it rather flatters the passions and delights. And no marvel 
that the case should be so with us when we arc infected with 
this poison of original sin, from the sole of the foot to the 
crown of the head, and especially when we reflect that the sins 
of paradise took place in nature while it was yet sound and 
perfect. Hence it is that we see in the cases of profane men, 
of fanatical spirits and of those who have no faith, or who 
have fallen from the faith, how secure and unconcerned they 
are, how vehement and pertinacious in defending their errors ; 



so much so that they will not hesitate even to die in the de- 
fence of them. Such is the nature of sin, while it remains un- 
felt. But afterwards when the sin is made manifest by the 
law, then it comes down upon the man with all its intolerable 

So before this discovery of her sin, while it was inwardly 
preparing for the act, the eyes of Eve were not opened. Had 
they been she must have died before she could have touched 
the fruit ; but because her eyes were not yet opened, and be- 
cause her unbelief yet remained, there remainedalso the longing 
for the fruit prohibited, and there remained also the purpose 
and the desire to obtain the Satan-promised knowledge, which 
was also forbidden. Poor miserable Eve, she is so wrapped 
up in disbelief, both in soul and in body, that she sees not the 
mighty evil she is committing! Similar examples of the in- 
sensible security and unconcern of sin are furnished by our 
ecclesiastical histories. Arius securely blesses himself, as long 
as he can find means of eluding the Scripture testimonies con- 
cerning the Divinity of the Son. 

But this security lasts not very long. As soon as the eyes 
of Eve were opened, she remembered the law of her God 
spoken to her, which before she had forgotten, "that she and 
Adam should not eat of the forbidden tree." Before she had 
diis knowledge of God's law she was "without sin," as Paul 
expresses it, Rom. 7:9, "And I was alive apart from the law 
once." Not because the law really did not exist, but because 
the apostle did not feel the threatenings and punishments of 
it ; and hence he seemed to himself to be "without the law." 
"For through the law cometh the knowledge of sin," Rom. 
3 :20. When therefore the law revived in his knowledge of 
it, his sin revived also with that knowledge, Rom. 7 :o. 

AH this Moses would indicate in his history of our first par- 
ents, when he says, "And the eyes of them both were opened," 
as if he had said, Satan had closed, not the eyes only of Eve, 
but her heart also by unbelief and by the disobedience of all the 
members of her body and of her soul without and within. 



But after her sin was committed and "finished," he willingly 
suffers the eyes of them both to be opened, that they might see 
what they had done. For this is Satan's manner of cutting 
short the ruin of those who sin under his temptations; when 
they have sinned, he leaves them to perish in despair. 

This portion of sacred history therefore is like a complete 
exposition of the sentence of Paul's words, "For through the 
law cometh the knowledge of sin," Rom. 3 120. For the law 
does nothing but make known and cause to revive that sin, 
which before the knowledge of the law lay asleep as it were 
and dead. Just as in the following chapter it is said to Cain, 
"If thou doest evil, thy sin slcepeth until it be made known 
to thee," Gen. 4:7. For it lieth asleep, while it is in the act. 
But when the law comes then the eyes are opened, so that the 
man then sees what God had commanded, and what punishment 
he had decreed for the transgressors of his command. When 
this takes place, so that the law fully rules in the conscience; 
then a man arrives at the true knowledge of his sin, which 
knowledge no human hearts can endure unless consolation be 
given them from above. 

What Moses next adds, therefore, that after they had eaten 
the fruit, "they saw that they were naked," are words by no 
means superfluous nor without special import. For if duly 
considered, they contain a beautiful description of original 

The schoolmen indeed argue that original righteousness was 
not connatural ; that is, not a part of human nature as orig- 
inally created ; but a certain ornament, only additionally be- 
stowed on man as a separate gift. Just as if one should place 
a garland on the head of a beautiful maiden. A garland is 
certainly no part of the nature of a virgin, but something 
separate from her nature as such; something added from 
without, which might be taken away again without any viola- 
tion of her nature. These schoolmen therefore argue, both 
concerning man and concerning devils, that, although they lost 
their original righteousness, yet their natural properties re- 

2 5 8 


mained pure as they were originally created. This doctrine 
however detracts from the magnitude of original sin and is to 
be shunned as a deadly poison. 

We conclude therefore that original righteousness was not 
a superadded gift, which was bestowed from without, separate 
from the very nature of man; but a truly natural righteous- 
ness; so that it was the very nature of Adam to know God, 
to love God, to believe in God, to acknowledge God and to 
worship God, etc. These things were as natural in Adam, as 
it is natural to the eyes to see the light. When the eye is in- 
jured by the infliction of a wound, you may rightly affirm that 
nature is violated ; so after man fell from his original righteous- 
ness, it is correctly maintained, that the properties of nature 
were no longer sound and whole, but defiled and corrupted by 
sin. For as it is the nature of the eye to see, so it was the 
original nature of the reason and of the will of Adam to know 
God, to trust in God, and to fear God. 

Since therefore it is evident that all these natural powers 
are lost, who is so mad as to assert that the faculties and 
properties of nature are still sound and whole? And yet, 
there was nothing more common nor more fully received in the 
schools than this doctrine. How much greater then must be 
the absurdity and the madness, to affirm this doctrine con- 
cerning devils to be true, especially since Christ himself de- 
clares "that they abode not in the truth,'' and when we our- 
selves know them to be the most bitter enemies of Christ and 
of his Church 1 . 

The natural faculties in man therefore created originally 
sound and whole, were the knowledge of God, faith in God, the 
fear of God, etc. All these Satan corrupted by sin in the same 
manner as leprosy defiles the whole flesh. The will and reason 
of man therefore are so corrupted by sin, that he not only 
does no longer naturally love God, but flees from him and hates 
him and wishes to live without him, and to be without him 

Therefore Moses has exactly described in this portion of his 



sacred history that corruption which succeeded original right- 
eousness and its glory. For it was the peculiar glory of Adam 
and Eve not to know that they were naked. What corruption 
then can be greater than that the nakedness, which was origi- 
nally the glory of our first parents, should now be changed 
into the basest turpitude. Thus no one blushes on account of 
his eyes, when sound and perfect. But when the eyes arc dis- 
torted or partially blind, they cover us with a certain cloud of 
defect and with a feeling of shame. In like manner in their 
state of original innocency, it was entirely a matter of glory for 
Adam and Eve to walk in nakedness. But when, after their 
sin, "they saw that they were naked," they were overwhelmed 
with shame and looked about them for "girdles" wherewith 
to hide their turpitude. How much greater turpitude then is 
disclosed by the fact, that the slaughtered will, the corrupted 
understanding and the wholly defiled reason have changed 
man into an utterly altered being. Are all these woeful things 
proofs, I pray you, that the qualities and faculties of man's 
original nature still remain sound and whole? 

But consider for a moment what will necessarily follow 
from the doctrine of making original righteousness, not to have 
been an essential part of created nature, but only a certain 
superfluous and superadded gift or ornament. If you lay it 
down as a fact, that original righteousness was not an essen- 
tial quality of the nature of man, it must inevitably follow that 
the sin, which followed original righteousness, was also not an 
essential quality of the nature of man. And if so, was it not 
an utterly vain tiling that Christ should be sent into the world 
as the Redeemer of man, if it was man's original righteous- 
ness only, which was merely a foreign and separate addition 
to his nature, that was lost ; and if that loss still left the facul- 
ties and qualities of his original nature sound and perfect? But 
what doctrine can be worse than this? What doctrine more 
unworthy a divine to utter? 

Flee therefore from such mad dreams as from a real pesti- 
lence and from corruption of the Holy Scriptures; and let 



US instead follow actual experience which teaches us that we 
are born of corrupt seed and that we derive from the very 
nature of that seed, ignorance of God, self-security, unbelief, 
hatred of God, disobedience, impatience and numberless other 
kindred evils ; all which are so engendered and implanted in 
our very nature, and are a poison so wholly diffused through- 
out our flesh, bodj', soul, nerves and blood, yea, through all our 
bones and their very marrow ; and so wholly poisoning our will, 
our understanding and our reason, that the poison not only 
can never be extracted, but that we cannot even acknowledge, 
or feel, or see that this is our state of sin I 

It is a well known sentiment of the old Greek comedian, 
Aristophanes, "that to visit harlots is no disgrace to a youth." 
Pardon however may be extended to such a sentiment in a 
heathen poet. But it is most awful in such as call themselves 
Christian men, and men professing a knowledge of the Holy 
Scriptures, to incline toward such a sentiment that whoredom 
is not positive sin. And yet, whole colleges of our canonicals 
actually approve the sentiment, with one consent by their lives 
and manners. When this is the case therefore with respect to 
actual outward sins, what must we conclude to be the state of 
men's minds, with respect to the uncleanness of the heart and 
the motions of sin in our very nature? These motions of 
nature, wicked men cannot of course understand to be sins. 

Thus a wicked man cannot understand that the glory of 
nakedness was lost by sin. For the fact of Adam and Eve 
walking abroad naked was their highest adornment in the sight 
of God and before the whole creation. But now since the 
entrance of sin we not only recoil at the thought of walking 
naked before men for their sakes, but we are filled with shame 
for our own sakes ; as Moses here testifies, concerning the feel- 
ings of Adam and Eve. And this very shame witnesses that 
our confidence in God as well as in man is lost, whereas this 
confidence in both existed before sin entered by the fall. But 
after the entrance of sin, Adam even though blinded would yet 
have been abashed to present himself naked before the eyes 



of God or of men ; because by his disobedience, his former con- 
fidence in God, his glorious Creator, was lost. 

All these things therefore abundantly testify that original 
righteousness was an essential quality of the nature of man, 
when first created ; and as that original righteousness was lost 
by sin, it is manifest that no qualities or properties or powers 
of nature remain perfect and sound, as the schoolmen madly 
dream. For, as it was the original nature of man to go forth 
naked, full of innocent confidence and security toward God 
and with the knowledge that such nakedness pleased both God 
and men, so now since the entrance of sin man feels that this 
same nakedness of nature, originally so glorious, is displeasing 
to God, to man himself and to all rational creatures. And ac- 
cordingly man prepares himself girdles, and carefully covers 
his "uncomely parts," 1 Cor. 12:23. Is 'this not an awful 
change in nature? Nature does indeed remain, but corrupted 
in numerous forms. For all innocent confidence in God is 
lost, and the heart is full of distrust, fear and shame. So, also 
the members of nature all remain the same. But those mem- 
bers which were once beheld in all their nakedness with glory 
are now cautiously covered, as dishonorable and base, lest they 
should be seen, because of the great internal defects of nature ; 
because nature has lost all confidence in God by sin. For if we 
possessed that confidence in innocency, as Adam enjoyed it, we 
should know no shame, no blush in our nakedness. 

From this corruption, which immediately followed sin, arose 
another evil. Adam and Eve were not only ashamed on ac- 
count of their nakedness, which before their sin was most 
honorable, and a most glorious adornment ; but they even make 
for themselves coverings to hide from sight those parts of their 
body which, in their original nature, were thus so honorable 
and so glorious. For what in all nature is so wonderful, so 
noble and so glorious, as the fact of generation ! And this fact, 
so noble, so glorious, is not assigned of God to the eyes or to 
the face, which we consider to be the more honorable and dig- 
nified parts of our body, but to those parts which thus, taught 



by our awful state of sin, we cover from sight with all possible 
carefulness lest they should be seen. And thus as the fact of 
generation in the innocent state of nature, had it continued, 
would have been most pure and most holy; so since the en- 
trance of sin, even this fact is filled with the leprosy of lust, as 
arc also all the parts of the body connected with it. Those 
therefore who live without marriage, "burn" in lust, most im- 
purely. And those also who live in marriage, unless they right- 
ly moderate their feelings and affections, and carefully guard 
their "due benevolence," i Cor. 7 3, are variously tempted and 

Do wc not then, from all these considerations, feel how foul 
and horrible a thing sin is? For lust is the only thing that can- 
not be cured by any remedy! Not even by marriage, which was 
expressly ordained from above to be a remedy for this infirmity 
of our nature. For the greater part of married persons still 
live in adultery, and thus sing practically the well-known song 
of the heathen poet of old : — 

"Nee tecum possum vivere sine te" (Ovid) 

Neither with thee, nor yet without thee, wife, can I by 
nature, live. Such is the horrible turpitude which arises out 
of this most honorable and most excellent part of our natural 
body 1 1 call it most excellent, on account of the noble and mar- 
velous work of generation, which is indeed most excellent, and 
wonderful and glorious; because it preserves the continuation 
of the race of mankind ! By reason of sin therefore the most 
excellent and effectual members of our body have become the 
most vile and base. 

But this would not have been the case with Adam and Eve, 
had they continued in their innocency. They were full of inno- 
cent confidence in their God. Therefore whenever they wished 
to devote themselves to the procreation of children, they would 
have come together, not maddened with that lust which now 
reigns in our leprous flesh, but with an admiration of the ordi- 
nance of God, in obedience to God and in the worship of God ; 
and also with the same holy quietness and solemnity of mind, 



as that in which we go to hear the Word of God and to worship 
God. But all these things we have lost by sin, so that wc can 
now only conceive of them and understand them negatively, not 
positively. For from the awful state of evil in which wc now 
stand, we can only gather negatively an idea of the greatness of 
that good and that glory which we have lost. But we owe a 
deep debt of gratitude to God, even for the remnants of the 
original glory still left us, however corrupt the noble, wonder- 
ful and glorious work of generation now may be; of which 
both the Church and the State have need for the perpetuation 
of saints and of citizens. 

And it is a marvelous fact that in all the writers, of all 
tongues not one iota is found which sets forth the glory of that 
original nakedness, which is now through sin so filled with tur- 
pitude and shame ; but which before sin entered into the world 
was so honorable and glorious. Here we have Moses alone 
as our great teacher, who however sets forth the whole matter 
in but very few, and those very simple words, teaching us that 
man, having fallen from faith, was filled with confusion, and 
that the glory of bis organs of generation was changed into 
utter turpitude and ignominy, so that he was compelled to make 
coverings to hide them from sight. 

The Hebrew term iiegoeah, of which we here have the 
plural, properly signifies a girdle or apron-girt, so that we are 
to understand that these fig leaves covered the upper parts of 
the thighs all round in every part, in order that the part of the 
body which before sin was the most honorable, 1 Cor. 12:23, 
might now be covered as being the most uncomely and base, 
and utterly unworthy the sight of men. O how horrible was 
the fall by sin! For after it the eyes of man were so opened 
that what was before the most honorable and glorious, he now 
looks upon as most dishonorable and base. 

And so it is to this day. As soon as the law has come, we 
then first discover what we have done. And sin thus made 
known seems to have in it such awful baseness that the enlight- 
ened minds of men cannot endure the sight, and therefore they 



endeavor to cover their turpitude. For no one ever, though 
he be a thief, an adulterer or a murderer, etc., is willing to ap- 
pear to be such. So also heretics are never found to acknow- 
ledge their error in any degree, but defend it most pertinacious- 
ly and wish to appear to hold the catholic truth. And that they 
may secure this appearance, they sew together fig leaves as 
broad as possible ; that is, they try all things which seem likely 
to color over and cloak their heresy. 

This same nature of sin is seen even in children, who fre- 
quently, though caught in the very fact of doing evil, yet busy 
themselves in discovering means whereby they can persuade 
their parents to the contrary ; thus excusing themselves, speak- 
ing lies, Ps. 58 13. In precisely the same manner do men also 
act. Even when caught and held fast, they yet endeavor to 
slip away that they may not be confounded, but may still appear 
good and just. This portion of poison also has been infused 
into our very nature, as the present passage of Moses likewise 


V. 8. And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in 
the garden in the cool {breeze) of the day: and the man 
and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God 
amongst the trees of the garden. 

This is now the third evil of original sin, bearing its ad- 
ditional proof, that original righteousness was lost, But here 
again Lyra is entangled in the opinions of Rabbins, some of 
whom interpret the expression in the breeze of the day, ad 
auram diet, as referring to place, or to the climate between the 
south and the west, while others explain the expression as 
referring to time, holding that this sacred circumstance occur- 
red in the evening. When the heat begins to subside, the winds 



commence their breathing. 

My mind is however that we should receive breathing 
(spiritum) here, as simply signifying "the Word," and under- 
stand the passage as meaning that after the conscience of Adam 
and Eve were convinced by the divine law, they were terrified 
at the sound of a leaf. Just as we see to be the case with all 
fearstricken men, when they hear the creak of a beam, they 
dread the fall of the whole house. When they hear a mouse 
moving they are terrified lest Satan should be at hand with an 
intent to destroy them. For by nature we are so wholly filled 
with alarm, that we really fear even those things which are 
perfectly safe. 

Adam and Eve therefore, as soon as their consciences are 
convinced by the law and they are brought to feel their tur- 
pitude in the sight of God, and of themselves having lost their 
faith and confidence in God, are so filled with fear and alarm 
that when they hear a breeze or b»eath of wind, immediately 
imagine that God is at hand as an avenger, and hide themselves 
from him. I believe therefore that by the voice of the Lord 
walking in the garden, Moses really means a breath or sound 
of wind which preceded the appearance of God before them. 
Hence Christ says in the gospel, when speaking of the wind, 
"Thou hearest the sound or voice thereof," John 3:8. For 
when Adam and Eve heard the rustling of the leaves as if 
shaken by the wind, they thought on a sudden within them- 
selves, Hark 1 there is the Lord coming to take vengeance upon 

When therefore Moses adds "in the breeze of the day" to 
the words "the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden," 
he seems to me to do so by way of particular explanation of the 
meaning he intended to convey. As if he had said by way of 
comment, This voice was like a breezy blast of the day; and as 
if he wished the emphasis of his expression to rest on the word 
day. For he does not speak concerning a wind in the night, in 
order to exaggerate the greatness of the terror which follows 
upon sin ; as if he had said in further explanation they were 



so stricken with fear that they were alarmed at the sound of a 
leaf, even in the clear light of day. What therefore, he seems 
to intend to intimate, would have been the result if God had 
come to them in the night and in the solemn darkness? Then 
the terror must have been more dreadful still. For as the light 
gives animation, so the darkness increases dread. This terror 
therefore, with which Adam and Eve after their sin were struck 
in the very broad light of day, is indeed a manifest proof that 
they had fallen utterly from the confidence of faith. 

This I believe to be the true sense of the present passage, and 
it fully agrees with that threatening of Moses, Lev. 26., where 
he is speaking of the punishments which should assuredly 
follow the commission of sin, that the sinners should be chased 
by the sound of a shaking leaf and that they should flee from it 
as from a sword, Lev. 26:36. For when the conscience is 
truly alarmed on account of sin, the man is so oppressed by it 
that he not only cannot do anything, but cannot even direct his 
thought to any purpose. And just as they say is sometimes' 
the case in an army when the soldiers, overpowered by fear, 
cannot move a hand, but give themselves up in entire helpless- 
ness to be slaughtered by the enemy; in the same manner so 
horrible is the punishment which follows sin that the conscience 
of the sinner is struck with alarm at the sound of a leaf. Nay, 
that he cannot endure that all-beautiful creature, the light of 
day, by which all nature besides is enlivened and refreshed. 

Here therefore you have another sight of the magnitude of 
that original stn which is born in us at our birth, and implanted 
in us by the sin of our first parents. And this sight, as I have 
said, enables us to understand negatively or by a comparison of 
contraries, what original righteousness was. It contained in it 
such a beautiful confidence in man toward his God, that he 
could not have feared even though he had seen the heavens 
falling in ruins upon his head ! 

With what complete confidence did Eve listen to the serpent? 
We do not talk to a little house-dog brought up in our family 
circle and to whom we have been accustomed for years, nor with 

UKNES1S 111. 


a favorite chicken, more familiarly than Eve did with that then 
beautiful creature. Before their sin therefore Adam and Eve 
sought no hiding-places ; but stood upright in all their created 
wisdom and righteousness, praising God with uplifted eyes. 
But now they are terrified at the sound of a shaking leaf. O ! 
how awful a fall 1 To fall from the safest security and delight 
in God into fear and dread so horrible, that man can no longer 
endure the sight of his God, but flees from his presence as 
from the presence of the devil ! For it is not the devil from 
whom Adam and Eve are now fleeing. They are rushing from 
the sight of God their Creator, whose presence is now more 
dreadful and intolerable to them than that of Satan ; Satan is 
now more congenial to their feelings than the adorable God ; 
for from Satan they flee not, nor are filled with his dread. 
This dread therefore, is actually a flight from and a hatred of 
God himself. 

It is instructive here to mark the gradual increase and pro- 
gressive steps of sin, which goes on until it becomes, as Paul is 
wont to express it, "exceeding sinful," Rom. 7:13. For man 
first falls from his faith into unbelief aud disobedience. Upon 
unbelief follow the dread and hatred of God and fleeing from 
him ; and these are soon succeeded by despair and impenitence. 
For whither shall the heart flee when thus dreading the pres- 
ence of God? Shall it flee unto the devil? That of course is 
vain, and is $iever expected to be the case ; and yet to this it 
all comes. For this* history shows that God created man and 
made him lord over all created things. And yet that same 
man now flees from him and considers nothing more hateful or 
intolerable than the presence of this same Creator. Were it not 
so he would not now thus turn away from his God nor flee 
from him in instant dread of the voice of his approach. For 
all this is not during the night, not under thunderings and light- 
nings as at the mount of Sinai, but in the bright light of "day" 
while a gentle breeze is breathing and the leaves of the trees 
softly rustling by its touch ! There is nothing therefore more 
intolerable to endure, nothing filled with greater misery than 



a conscience alarmed by the law of God and by the sight of 
sins committed. 

This it was that made Adam and Eve do the worst of all 
things they could do, namely, to shun their Creator and their 
God, and to flee to the truly vain refuge of fig leaves, in order 
to cover themselves from his sight and to hide themselves 
among the trees ! And what could be more indescribably hor- 
rible, than thus to flee from God and to hide themselves from 
his sight? 

Wherefore this affords a further view of alterations of the 
rectitude of the will and of the understanding after the sin of 
the fall. The very facts show that the will was corrupted and 
depraved. For Adam and Eve long for those very things 
which God had prohibited, and they so long for them as to 
become disobedient to God and obedient to Satan. Nor can we 
entertain any doubt of the corruption of the understanding 
also, when we see the counsel of covering themselves which 
Adam and Eve adopted, and by which they thought they were 
safe. Was it not, I pray you, the very extreme of folly, first 
to attempt impossibilities in trying to flee from God, whom no 
one can escape or avoid? And was it not in the next place 
greater folly still, to attempt that escape from the presence of 
God in so absurd a manner, as to believe themselves safe when 
hidden among the trees of the garden, when they must other- 
wise have known that no walls of iron nor mighty mountains 
of brass can save from the presence or the grasp of God? 

All confidence in God being thus lost by sin, there now 
follows a horrible dread upon the will. And all wisdom and 
understanding being lost, those most beautiful gifts of God, 
there follows in their place the extremity of folly; such folly 
that men attempt impossibilities by means the most absurd. So 
inexhaustibly deep is the evil of original sin I And even all 
these calamities are but the prelude to that which is yet to come. 
For we are not yet brought to the judgment of God. Then 
follows : 

V. 9. Aitd Jehovah God called unto the man, and said unto 
him. Where art thou? 



Here we have a description of the judgment of God. When 
Adam, terrified by the consciousness of his sin, fled from the 
presence and sight of God he found not only paradise, but the 
whole world too narrow in which to find a corner where to 
hide himself from God in safety. But all his anxiety makes 
manifest the folly of his mind in seeking a remedy for his sin 
by fleeing from his God. But he had fled from him much too 
far already. For his very sin was, that he, departing from God 
at the first, needed not therefore to flee farther from him still. 
But so it is. That is the very nature of sin, the farther a man 
departs from God, the farther he wants to depart. And thus 
the man who has once departed and apostatized from God, 
goes on departing and departing to all eternity. Hence it is 
truly said concerning the punishments of hell, that its greatest 
punishment is that the wicked there are always wishing to flee 
from God, but feel that flee they cannot. Just in the same man- 
ner Adam, though found out and apprehended of God, yet 
ceases not to attempt to flee out of his hands. 

When therefore Moses here says, "Jehovah God called unto 
Adam," we are to understand that the Lord called him to 
judgment. But a question is raised here concerning the person 
by means of whom Adam was called of God, and it is by no 
means out of the way to suppose that all these things were 
carried on by the ministration of angels, and that an angel 
here acted in the place of God, as God spoke all these things 
to Adam. Just as magistrates when they say or do anything, 
say and do it not in their own person, but in the person of God, 
as his representatives. Hence it is that the Scriptures call 
those judgments, which are exercised and administered by ap- 
pointed men, the judgment of God. It by no means displeases 
me therefore that it should be considered that Adam was here 
called by an angel, and that it was shown him by that same 
angel that all flight was impossible. 

It is here especially to be noticed moreover that Moses ex- 
pressly tells us that it was Adam who was called ; seeing that 
it was to Adam alone that the Word of God was spoken on 



the sixth day, concerning that tree of which they were both 
forbidden to eat. As therefore Adam alone heard the com- 
mand, so he alone is first called to judgment. But as Eve her- 
self also had sinned and departed from God, she also hears the 
judgment at the same time and becomes a partaker of the 

The words, "Where art thou?" are the words of the law, 
spoken by God and reaching unto the conscience of Adam. 
For although all things are naked and open unto the eyes of 
God, as it is written, Heb. 4:13, yet he speaks unto our sense, 
feeling and understanding; for he sees us aiming at the one 
thing of fleeing away from him and attempting our escape 
from his sight and presence. When therefore God says, 
"Where art thou?" it is as if he had said, "Thinkest thou that 
I see thee not?" For he will have Adam to see and feel that 
though hidden he is not hidden from God I And that though 
he flees from God, from God he cannot flee. For this is the 
very nature of all sin ; it causes us to attempt to flee from the 
wrath of God, from which wrath we find it impossible to flee. 
It is indeed the utmost folly to think that we shall find a rem- 
edy in fleeing from God, rather than in returning to him; yet 
it is the very nature of sin that the sinner cannot return to 
God. What then can we possibly conceive to have been the 
exceeding folly and state of mind in Adam? He had heard 
the voice of Jehovah, and yet lie hoped that he could conceal 
himself from his presence; when lo! he was now standing be- 
fore the tribunal of God and was demanded of God for pun- 
ishment ! 

V. 10. And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I 
zvas afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 

As it was the utmost folly that Adam fled from God, so in 
the utmost folly he answers him, so utterly deprived by sin is 
he of all wisdom and counsel. He now really wishes to teach 
God that he is naked, who had himself created him naked. 
Thus does he wholly confound himself, and betray and con- 
demn himself out of his mouth. He confesses that he heard 

genesis in. 


the voice of Jehovah and was afraid. And had he not also 
heard the voice of Jehovah before, when Jehovah forbade him 
to eat the fruit of that tree? Why did he not then fear also? 
Why did he not then also hide himself? How was it that then 
he stood with uplifted countenance and with joy before him, 
rejoicing- in his presence and delighting to hear him speak? 
Now he trembles at the sound of a shaking leaf ! It is at least 
evident that he is no longer the same Adam lie then was ; he 
is totally changed, and become quite another man ; he now 
looks about for a lie and a false cause for his defense. For 
how can it be true, that "the voice of Jehovah is the real 
cause of his fear," when before he feared not that divine voice, 
but heard it as the voice of his God with happiness and joy? 

Learn then from this solemn history that pcrvcrscness and 
folly ever accompany sin, that transgressors by all their ex- 
cuses only accuse themselves, and that the more they defend 
the more they betray themselves, especially before God ! Thus 
Adam here attempts to conceal his sin and to adorn himself as 
innocent, in that he alleges, as the cause of his fleeing, not his 
having sinned, but his having heard the voice of the Lord; and 
he makes that to be the cause of his alarm and of his being 
ashamed because he was naked. Poor wretched man! He 
never thinks that he had no such fear as this when he heard the 
same voice of God at first. He never recollects that he was 
not then ashamed because he was naked. For as that naked- 
ness was the creation of God, why should he the creature be 
ashamed of that which God had made ! He then walked in all 
his nakedness in the sight of God and of the whole creation in 
paradise, perfectly secure and happy that such was the will of 
God and delighting in God on that very account. But now he 
is covered with shame, because he is naked and flees from God 
and hides from him on that account. Every one of these tilings 
is an argument by which Adam condemns himself, and betrays 
his present state of sin. And just in the same manner will the 
wicked condemn themselves in the final judgment, when all 
the darkness shall be driven away from all the hearts of men 



and the sins of all men shall be read in the "book" when 

God knew perfectly well that Adam had sinned and was 
demned by the testimony of his own mouth, as having sinned. 
guilty of death. Yet he calls him that he might be con- 
For he flees from God when he calls him, which fact was itself 
the very essence of sin, even as it is the very essence of 
righteousness to flee unto God as a refuge. This fleeing from 
God therefore is the strongest possible testimony of Adam 
against himself. Yet even still he vainly hopes that his sin 
can be covered by a lie, for he alleges as the real causes of his 
flight the voice of God and his own nakedness. 

From this we learn therefore that such is the nature of sin, 
that unless God bring the medicine immediately after it is 
committed and call back the sinner to himself, he will flee from 
his God farther and farther, and by mendaciously excusing his 
sin he will add sin to sin until he runs at length into blasphemy 
and despair. Thus sin draws after it by its own weight as it 
were sin upon sin, and causes eternal ruin, until the sinner 
finally will rather accuse God himself than acknowledge his 

own sin. 

Adam ought to have said, Lord, I have sinned! But this 
Adam does not. He rather actually accuses God of sin ; and 
in reality he says, thou, Lord, hast sinned. For I should have 
remained wholly in paradise after my eating the fruit, if thou 
hadst remained perfectly quiet. For the words of Adam bear 
all this import in truth, when he says in substance, I should 
not have fled if thy voice had not terrified me from thy pres- 
ence. Thus man, when accused of sin by his God, instead of 
acknowledging his sin, raLhcr accuses God as being the cause 
of it and transfers his sin from himself and lays the blame 
of it on his Creator. Hence sin increases to infinity, unless God 
by his mercy come to succor the sinner. And yet Adam all 
the while considers this excusing himself and blaming his 
Creator, the highest wisdom. For he is so confounded by the 
terror of his conscience, that he knows not what he says nor 


2 7i 

what he does. Although by thus excusing himself, he only 
accuses himself the more grievously and increases his sin to 
the utmost extent. 

Let us however by no means think that all this happened to 
Adam only. Every one of us does the very same thing; nor 
will nature of herself ever permit us to do otherwise. For 
after having sinned we all rather accuse God than acknowl- 
edge our sin before him; just as Adam here did, who asserted 
that the voice of God was the cause of his fleeing from him ; 
thus actually making God himself to be the cause of his flight. 
And next, upon the back of this sin quickly follows another and 
further sin. For he that spares not his Creator himself, how 
shall he be likely to spare the creature? Therefore Adam next 
charges God with his nakedness, thus making him the Creator 
of a thing that was vile and base. For by his sin Adam is so 
deprived of his senses that he turns the glory of his nakedness 
into a reproach to his Creator. 

V. 11. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked.' 
Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that 
thou shouldst not calf 

Here the conscience of Adam is pierced with the true sting 
of the law. It is as if God had said, Thou knowest that thou 
art naked, then and therefore thou hidest thyself from me. 
But nakedness is my creature. Dost thou condemn that crea- 
ture then as vile and base. It is not thy nakedness therefore 
that hath confounded thee, nor is it my voice that hath terrified 
thee. It is thy conscience that accuscth thee of sin, because 
thou hast eaten the fruit of the forbidden tree. This is the 
cause of thy flight from my presence. Here Adam being thus 
pressed by the law and by his conscience is in the midst of 
death ; yea, in the midst of hell. For lie is compelled to confess 
that there was no evil in his nakedness, because it was so cre- 
ated of God. But he was forced to acknowledge that the 
mighty evil was that he now had a guilty conscience concern- 
ing his nakedness, in which before he had gloried as in a beau- 
tiful adornment; and that he now dreaded that same voice of 



God, which before he had heard with supreme delight. 

It is to this state of mind, which the Lord now perceives in 
Adam, that the words of this passage expressly speak. As if 
Jehovah had said, Since thou hast an evil conscience and art 
filled with dread, most assuredly thou hast eaten of the forbid- 
den tree. For thou receivedst no command from me that thou 
shouldst not commit murder nor that thou shouldst not commit 
adultery, but that thou shouldst not eat of the fruit of this tree. 
As therefore thou art filled with terror, thou thereby makest 
it manifest that thou hast sinned against that commandment. 

Thus those very things which were Adam's thoughts, those 
same things he now hears from the mouth of the Lord. 
Adam was thinking thus: I have eaten the fruit, but I will 
not say that 1 have fled from God on that account. I will say 
nothing about my sin. I will say that I was afraid, because I 
was naked, and that I was terrified into flight by his voice. 
But while he is saying these things to himself he is compelled 
to condemn himself, and he hears his conscience within con- 
victing him of a lie and condemning his sin. In addition to 
this accusation of his own conscience, the Lord himself now 
accuses him of his sin openly, and in the plainest words. But 
not even now can Adam he brought to the honest acknowledg- 
ment of his sin. For now follows, 

V. 12. And the man said, The woman ivhom thou gavest to 
be with mc, she gave me of the tree, and I did cat. 

Only mark the true colors, the essential evil and real nature 
of sin. It is depicted in this excuse of Adam. It shows that 
a man can in no way be brought to an open confession of his 
sin, but that he will deny his sin or excuse it as long as he car. 
find that there is any hope or any probable ground of excuse 
left him. For it was not so wonderful that Adam should at 
first hope that his sin could be covered, and that he should 
rather accuse God than acknowledge the sin he had commit- 
ted. The great wonder was that after he was convicted in his 
own conscience, and after he had heard his sin declared from 
the mouth of God himself, he should still persist in excusing 



that sin. For he does not say, "Lord, I have sinned; forgive 
me the debt of my sin ; be merciful unto mc ;" for the very na- 
ture of sin is, that it will not suffer the mind to flee unto God, 
but instead compels it to flee from God. But he transfers all 
the fault from himself to the woman. 

It is a well known rule, taught in the schools of legal and 
civil orators, that when a charge of crime is brought against 
the defendant, the act should either be denied totally or de- 
fended as having been done rightly. Adam here does both. 
He first of all denies his sin altogether and asserts that his 
terror arose, not from his sin, but from the voice of the Lord. 
And then when so far convinced of his sin in what he has 
done he attempts to defend the act, as having been done right- 
ly and unavoidably. "If," says he to the Lord, "thou hadst not 
given me this woman, I should not have eaten the fruit." Thus 
he further lays all the blame of what he had done on God him- 
self, and positively accuses him as being after all the real cause 
of his sin. 

Wherefore there is no end to a man's sinning, when he has 
once turned aside from the Word. Adam at first sinned by 
unbelief and disobedience, and now he heaps upon that sin 
reproaches of God and positive blasphemy, saying in effect, 
It was not I who listened to the serpent ; it was not I who was 
captivated by looking on the fruit of that tree ; it was not I who 
stretched forth my hand to pluck the forbidden fruit. The 
woman whom thou gavest me did all this. In a word Adam has 
no desire to acknowledge his sin. On the contrary he wishes to 
be considered pure and clean. 

This portion of the divine record contains a further descrip- 
tion of sin and of the real nature of sin. For whenever the 
promise of the remission of sins or faith in that promise is 
not immediately at hand, the sinner cannot do otherwise than 
Adam did. If God had said, Adam, thou hast sinned, but I 
will pardon thy sin, then Adam would have acknowledged 
his sin with all humility and candor and with the utmost detes- 
tation of what he had done. But because the hope of the re- 



mission of sin was not present to his mind on aciuvtut of his 
having transgressed the commandment of God, he can see 
nothing, he can feel nothing but death, the certain punishment 
of such transgression. And because human nature cannot 
but be shocked at the sight of that certain death, therefore 
Adam cannot be brought to the confession of his sin, but he 
tries all possible means by which he has the least hope of 
warding off the blame of his sin. And thus does every sinner 
hate the punishment of his transgressions ; and because he 
hates that punishment, he also hates the justice of God, and 
God himself, and endeavors by all means in his power to per- 
suade both God and men that he suffers innocently. 

Just in this manner docs Adam here endeavor to lessen his 
sin by saying that it was not he who listened to the serpent, nor 
he who plucked the fruit. "The woman whom thou gavest me," 
says he, "offered me the fruit of this tree." In the same state 
of mind as Adam are those who, when they have come to a 
knowledge of the sins they have committed, filled with despair, 
either cut short their life with a halter or curse God as the 
cause of their transgressions. The words of Job are familiarly 
known: "Let the day perish wherein I was born; why died 
I not from the womb?" Job 3:3, II. For such lay all the 
fault of their sin on God, and complain against God that they 
were ever created to destruction and damnation. Nor can 
any sinner do otherwise, when the hope of pardon and the 
promise of grace are not present to his soul. Because death is 
intolerable to human nature, therefore it produces despera- 
tion and blasphemies. 

It is an utterance full of pain and of wrath against God, 
when Adam says, "The woman whom thou gavest me." It is 
as if he had said, thou thyself has laid upon me the burden of 
this evil; if thou hadst given to the woman some separate 
garden to herself and hadst not burdened me with thy com- 
mand that I should live with her, I might have continued with- 
out sin. As therefore I have sinned, the fault is thine in ad- 
ding to me a wife. In the case of Adam therefore is set before 



us an exact example of all those who sin and who despair 
under their sin. They cannot do otherwise than accuse God 
and excuse themselves, for seeing as they do that God is om- 
nipotent they consider that he could have prevented these their 
sins. So horrible is sin, whenever the minds of sinners are not 
soon relieved and lifted up with the promise of the forgiveness 
of sins. And this is the true effect of the law, whenever the 
law is alone, without the gospel and the knowledge of its 
grace, it always leads to despair and to final impenitence. 

V. 13- And Jehovah God said unto the woman, What is 
this thou hast domf (iVhy hast thou done this?) And the 
wonum said, The serpent beguiled me and I did eat. 

Here the example of Eve is also set before us, who being 
corrupted by sin is seen to be in no degree better than Adam. 

Adam wished to appear innocent, and laid the blame on God, 
because he had given him a wife. Eve also attempts to ex- 
cuse herself and accuses the serpent, which also was a creature 
of God. She confesses indeed that she had eaten the fruit, but 
she says, The serpent, which thou createdst and which thou per- 
mittedst to go about in paradise, imposed upon me. Now is not 
this actually accusing her Creator and removing the fault from 
herself? Hence we see that sin is always and everywhere the 
same and works in the same way. It is never willing to be 
punished as sin, but ever wishes to appear to he righteousness. 
And as it cannot accomplish this it tarns the blame from itself 
upon God ; so that when God accuses a man of sin the man ac- 
tually charges God with falsehood in that accusation. So that 
sin, from being a human sin, becomes positively a devilish sin ; 
and the unbelief of the man is turned into blasphemy, and his 
disobedience into reproacli against his Creator 1 

I term this a devilish and not a human sin ; because the 
devil hates and accuses and condemns God, and justifies him- 
self to all eternity; nor can he possibly from his heart say, 
"Lord, I have sinned; pardon my sin." Were it not so the 
devil would not eternally despair of pardon. But that pardon 
is impossible, as long as he acknowledges not his sin, but bias- 

2 7 8 


pliemcs God as exercising unjust cruelty against him as a 
creature without just cause. 

Hence we see Adam and Eve so deeply fallen and sunk un- 
der sin, that they could not sink any lower. For upon their 
unbelief followed the disobedience of all the powers and all 
the members in man. Upon this disobedience, immediately 
afterwards, followed the excuse and defense of their sin. This 
defense was next followed by an accusation and condemnation 
of their God. This is sin's last step, to reproach God himself 
and to make him the author of sin. This nature of ours can 
ascend no higher than this in its sin against God. And these 
are the onward steps of sin, unless the minds of fallen sinners 
are lifted up by a confidence in God's mercy. 

Wherefore the state of the Church under the pope, was most 
horrible; for in it was neither seen nor heard anything what- 
ever which could lift up the mind of a sinner, laboring under 
his sin and guilt ; except that once a year the history of the 
passion of our Lord was slightly taught. And the statement 
of that history showed forth in some slight manner the source 
from which pardon was to be sought. But everything else on 
every side ted men away from the promise of the remission of 
sins to their own righteousness. Hence it was that we saw 
in many monasteries men alarmed by their sins through their 
whole life time, who were rilled with despair as they walked 
about, and at length died in agony, worn out with sorrow and 
pains of spirit. And as to the rest of their brethren, this doc- 
trine of pardon being wholly unknown, they did nothing but 
stand in their places and procure the protection of their saint 
by idolatrous prayers. Thus were these miserable creatures 
worn out and consumed with the most terrible pains of soul, 
without hope, without counsel and without any help whatever. 
Was not this then, I pray you, a horrible state of things ? 

Wherefore if the papacy and all the monasteries together 
could be overturned by the touch of one finger, it ought at once 
to be done on account of the whole papal church being this 
most wretched slaughter-house of consciences! For there is 



nothing more horrible than for a man to be under the weight 
of his sins, and yet never to hear or have the remission of sins 
and the promise of grace. Now the pope was the very cause 
of the remission of sins being utterly kept out of men's sight. 
For no sound doctrine nor any true worship whatever was re- 
tained in the church. And if any were saved in these times 
they were saved by the hare annual recital of the sufferings of 
Christ, apprehended by faith, contrary to the will of the pope 
and in defiance of his opposition. For through him men in the 
extreme perils of their souls were brought down to the neces- 
sity of imploring the intercession of Mary and of the saints. 
For these sayings filled every place : that the mother Mary 
showed her breasts to her Son, and that the Son showed his 
wounds to his Father, and that the man was thus saved; not 
by the intercession of the Son, but by the intercession of his 

I earnestly entreat you therefore with all the persuasion in 
my power, to set the highest value possible upon the doctrine 
of the Gospel. For what do we see in this history of Moses 
that Adam and Eve suffered when their sin was before them, 
and this knowledge of the promise of grace and of pardon was 
out of their sight? The very same do we also see in the dam- 
nation of Satan ; for as he is destitute of the promise of grace 
he is not able to cease from his sins, nor from his hatred of 
God, nor from his blasphemies against him. Hence it is that 
the condition of Adam was so different from that of Satan, and 
so much better and more blessed. For Adam was called to 
judgment that he might acknowledge his sin, that being terri- 
fied by his sins he might afterwards be lifted up again and 
comforted by the promise of the remission of his sins; as we 
shall now further see in this most beautiful part of the sacred 
history of Moses, in which we shall also find the preaching of 

For as the issue of this whole transaction sets forth the very 
great goodness and mercy of God toward man, seeing that 
God calls him back to the remission of sins and to eternal life 



through the Seed that was to come ; so also these very begin- 
nings of this divine mercy, if we view them aright, are much 
better and greater than Adam deserved at God's hand. For we 
have not here a display of that terrible majesty of God, which 
was witnessed on Mount Sinai, where there were thunderings 
and lightnings mingled with the loud soundings of trumpets. 
Here God approaches with the soft sound of the gentle breeze, 
signifying that he came in this case to seize with the tender 
hand of an affectionate Father. He does not drive Adam from 
him on account of his sin, but calls him away from his sin to 
himself. This fatherly care however Adam, overwhelmed with 
his sin and its terrors, does not at first understand or perceive ; 
he does not consider how differently God deals with him than 
with the serpent. For he did not call the serpent to him. He 
did not ask the serpent why he had sinned, in order that he 
might call him from his sin unto repentance. He charges 
the serpent with his sin, and pronounces his doom. These 
things show us that Christ our deliverer interposed himself 
even then, between God and man as a mediator. For it was 
the greatest display of grace, that even after the sin of Adam 
God was not silent, but spoke ; and that too in many and plain 
words, with the intent of showing forth evidences of his fath- 
erly mind toward sinners. His carriage towards the serpent 
was altogether different. Wherefore although the promise 
concerning Christ was not yet given, it may be plainly dis- 
cerned in the thoughts and counsel of God on this occasion. 

Thus far therefore Moses has set before us the judgment 
which God exercised after the sin of thie fall of our first par- 
ents. He calls them to his tribunal, and convicts them, and 
interrogates them, and hears them. They, poor creatures, de- 
sire indeed to escape that judgment, but they cannot ; nay, 
while they attempt to excuse themselves they doubly accuse 
and betray themselves. The woman acknowledges what she 
had done. Adam attempts to conceal the fact, although ac- 
cording to the very nature of sin he does not wish it to appear 
to be really sin at all. For as long as grace is withheld from 


28 1 

the sinner it is impossible for him to do otherwise than ex- 
cuse himself, and try to make his sin appear to be righteous- 
ness. God therefore is always compelled thus to contend with 
us by his laws, until he extorts from us the confession of our 
sins and brings us to justify him; as it is written in Ps. 51 14, 
where this confession is fully described. But as long as the law 
rules alone and galls the conscience, the conscience thus ter- 
rified cannot bring out this confession, as the examples of 
Adam and Eve here fully show. 

From this portion of the sacred record of Moses the holy 
prophets drew many divine truths ; for they studied this book 
of Moses with far greater diligence and stronger faith than 
we do. From this source they derived the following holy sen- 
tences: "The wicked flee when no man pursueth," Prov. 28:1. 
"The wicked are like the troubled sea, for it cannot rest ; there 
is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked," Is. 57:20, 21. 
"He that believeth shall not be ashamed," Is. 28:16. "The 
righteous are bold as a lion," Prov. 28:1. "The just shall live 
by his faith," Hab. 2:4. From this same place of Moses 
Christ also drew that memorable saying of his, which we find 
in the Evangelist John, "For every one that doeth evil hateth 
the light," John 3:20. For it is the very nature of sin that 
whoso committeth sin desires to remain hidden in darkness, 
and not to be brought into the light, just as Adam covered him- 
self with fig-leaves and fled to conceal himself among the trees. 

And we must also here touch upon that passage of the 
Apostle Paul, 1 Tim. 2:13, 14, "For Adam was first formed, 
then Eve; and Adam was not beguiled but the woman being 
beguiled hath fallen into transgression." This passage nearly 
all interpreters understand to mean that Adam was not de- 
ceived, but that he sinned knowingly; not from yielding to 
the persuasion of the devil as Eve had done, but from being 
unwilling to distress the delight of his life, that is, his wife; 
and thus preferring the love of his wife to the command of 
God. And they attempt to render this interpretation likely 
and probable by saying, that the serpent reverenced the male 



as his lord, but that he attacked the female, whom, although 
she was hoi}' as the man, yet as being- the weaker creature, he 
considered to be the better adapted to yield to his persuasion, 
and that therefore Eve was deceived by the serpent, and not 
Adam. Adam, they maintain, was deceived both by himself 
and by the woman, hut not by the serpent ; by the woman when 
she presented to him the fruit to cat; by himself when, be- 
cause lie did not see Eve die immediately when she had eaten' 
the fruit, he was induced to believe that the punishment which 
God had threatened would not "surely" follow. Just as a thief, 
when he has found his theft to have succeeded once or twice, 
goes on stealing in security. Whereas had the law-officer or 
the gallows been kept before his eyes, he would have ceased 
to steal. 

Wherefore I do not altogether condemn the above inter- 
pretation, for it makes both views to stand true, that Adam 
was deceived and that he was not deceived. He was not in- 
deed deceived by the serpent as Eve was, but he was deceived 
both by his wife and by himself, when he persuaded himself 
that the punishment which God had said should follow would 
not really come. Then follows the execution of judgment 
upon all the parties concerned. 



I. V- 14. And Jelwvah God said unto the serpent, Because 
thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above 
every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust 
shall thou eat all the days of thy life. 

After judgment has been pronounced and the whole case 
completely gone through, follows the execution of judgment, 
in which, as we shall now hear, there is rendered to each party 
according to their work, but not one like the other. Now this 
passage claims our thoughtful attention in the first place, be- 
cause there is not found throughout the five books of Moses 
so long a speech in the person of God. And in the next place, 



because this divine speech contains no law whatever as to 
what the serpent or man was required to do. The whole speech 
is occupied in promising that good or threatening that evil, 
which should come upon each party concerned. 

And it is worthy our particular observation here that, after 
the sin of the fall, no further law whatever was imposed on 
Adam, though nature in its state of perfection had a divine law 
set before it. The reason of this was, because God saw that na- 
ture, being now fallen and corrupt, could not only derive no 
help or relief from any law given to it, hut that, being thus cor- 
rupted and also disorganized and confused altogether, it could 
not hear any syllable of law whatsoever. Wherefore God did 
not increasedly oppress nature, already thus oppressed by sin, 
with any further law of any kind. But on the contrary God 
mercifully applied unto sin as a terrible wound, a healing plas- 
ter, that is, the promise concerning Christ, still using that 
caustic, the curse on sin, which the devil had caused to be in- 
flicted. For as wholesome plasters, even while they heal, yet 
corrode and pain the flesh; so the healing promise is so set 
before Adam that the threatened curse on sin should be added, 
to operate with it in curing the lust of the flesh. By the lust 
of the flesh I mean, not only that foul motion and itching of 
lust, but also "all manner of concupiscence" and uncleanness 
of soul, as Paul terms them, Rom. 7:8; Eph. 4:19, through 
which we are by nature inclined to idolatry, unbelief, self- 
security and all other horrible sins against the first and second 
Table. To curb and cure all this depravity of nature, we have 
need of the operation of this burning caustic, the curse of God 
on sin. 

I would that I could handle the text now before us in a man- 
ner becoming its depth and dignity, for it embraces all that is 
glorious in the whole Scripture, containing in it the curse of 
God on Satan and the destruction of the seed of the serpent by 
the seed of the woman. The former part of the text is wholly 
figurative. God speaks to the serpent, but it is manifest that 
the serpent alone is not here to be understood as addressed by 



God. For these are not the words of God as a Creator, as 
were those words above, when he said unto the beasts of the 
earth, "Be fruitful and multiply;" nor when he said to the 
earth itself, "Let the earth bring forth grass, and herbs, and 
trees, yielding seed after their kind." They are words of 
divine threatening and a declaration of mind and will, such 
words as God never speaks to an irrational creature, but to an 
intelligent creature only. 

God does indeed address the "serpent" by name, but he is all 
the while especially speaking to Satan, who ruled in the ser- 
pent, and by the serpent deceived the first parents of mankind. 
Nevertheless as, on account of the sin of man, the lord of the 
whole creation, all animals and all trees perished in the flood, 
just as the subjects of a nation are often punished on account 
of the misdeeds of their prince, so it befell the serpent. That 
animal also was punished because of the sin of the devil, who 
had abused the serpent in making use of it to work so mighty 
an evil as the sin of the fall. God however intends, figura- 
tively, to be represented under this punishment of the serpent, 
the deluging punishment of Satan. 

The obscurity which lies in this figurative representation has 
been the reason why this text, which ought to be most clearly 
known and understood by all, has never to my knowledge been 
explained by any one with sufficient diligence and clearness. 
And I have often wondered what the fathers and the bishops 
could have been about, who, when occupied in the government 
of churches and in the condemnation of heretics, did not feel 
that they had a still more important duty to perform in devot- 
ing themselves with greater diligence to the explanation of 
such passages of the Scriptures as these. Such bishops and 
fathers possess nothing more than the name, for they may with 
more truth be called destroyers than watchmen or guardians 
of the churches. I am now speaking of those of our fathers 
and bishops who really excelled in holiness of life and doc- 
trine. Even among these not one is found to have explained 
the text before us in any manner becoming its great dignity. 



Perhaps those various engagements which generally beset the 
rulers of churches too deeply involve them to leave them time 
for the purpose. 

The disgrace of our more recent divines is notorious. They 
have even shamefully corrupted this whole passage, and out of 
the neuter pronoun ipsum they have made the feminine, ipsa, 
which, with the most open wickedness, they have thus wrested, 
and have applied it to the Virgin Mary, "She shall bruise thy 
head," verse 15. I can pardon Lyra, who was as it appears a 
good man, but he conceded too much to the authority of the 
fathers, and hence he suffered himself to be drawn aside by 
Augustine, to the most weak and foolish allegorizings, which 
system Gregory also follows in his "Morals," maintaining that 
by the woman in this part of the sacred record ought to be un- 
derstood the inferior power of reason, as by the man, the 
superior power of reason ; and by her seed, the operation of 
good ; but by the seed of the devil, his evil suggestions. 

But what need, I pray you, friendly reader, is there of aii 
such darkness of the most absurd allegories in all this clear 
light of the truth ? But grant that we might with any propriety 
divide reason into two qualities or powers, the superior and 
the inferior. With how much greater propriety may we term 
that the inferior power of reason which is adapted to the 
government of domestic and political affairs, and not that 
which is concerned in swine-like pleasure and gratification? 
calling that the superior power of reason by which we contem- 
plate those things which are separate from economy or polity, 
and which pertain unto religion, the solemn things of the 
Word, in which we do nothing operative ly, but only contem- 
plate and learn? Although we thus speak upon these things 
what have they to do after all with the sacred text before us? 
Do they not altogether encumber and keep out of sight its real 
sense, and substitute a spurious sense in its stead, a sense 
which is not only useless but pernicious ? For what can reason 
do or what light can it give in the divine matter of religion? 

There is also a further absurdity in this mode of interpreta- 



tion, by which Eve is made to be the inferior power of reason. 
For it is perfectly evident that Eve was not inferior to her 
husband Adam in any sense whatever; that is, neither in body 
nor in soul. It is from this ridiculous mode of interpretation 
that all those profane disputatious concerning free-will have 
arisen, and concerning the doctrine "that reason always prays 
for the best," etc., until all theology is lost in philosophy and 
sophistical absurdities. 

Wherefore let us, casting away all such pernicious and ab- 
surd follies, enter upon a new road of interpretation, caring 
naught for having disregarded the footsteps of those who have 
gone before us. For we have the Holy Spirit as our guide, not 
setting before us in Moses a heap of absurd allegories, but 
Leaching us through him the mightiest truths and the mightiest 
things which took- place between God the Creator and man the 
sinner, and Satan the author of sin. 

First of all then let us settle it as a fact that the serpent here 
spoken of by God was a natural and real serpent, but a serpent 
besieged and occupied by Satan, who spoke through and by 
that serpent. Let us next consider it to be a truth, that those 
things which God spoke to the serpent are not to be understood 
as having been spoken to the serpent abstractedly as a brute 
animal, but that the person immediately spoken to was Satan, 
to whom God was all the while more expressly speaking. By 
this manner of interpretation, I am sure that I retain the plain 
and simple historical and literal meaning, and a meaning in ac- 
cordance with the whole passage ; by which meaning, as divine- 
ly intended, the serpent remains a serpent though occupied and 
possessed by Satan, the woman remains a woman, and Adam 
remains Adam, all which is proved by what follows in the 
sacred narrative. For it is not an inferior power of reason and 
a superior power of reason, who begat Cain and Abel, as re- 
corded in the following chapter, but Adam and Eve, that is, the 
first parents of mankind, who fell by sin into death and became 
subject to the dominion of Satan. 

When therefore God says to the serpent, "Thou art cursed 



above all cattle and above every beast of the field, upon thy 
belly shalt thou go," the divine meaning is not that which 
Augustine gives, and which his disciples follow. They under- 
stand that by "belly" is to be allegorically understood pride. 
But the divine mind in the passage is, that as Satan abused 
the serpent in effecting the sin of tlie fall, so the serpent is 
compelled of God to bear a part of the punishment of that sin 
and therefore is thus cursed above all cattle, that it might be 
the most hateful of all the beasts of the field. At the begin- 
ning of the creation it was not so ; but now through the divine 
curse, such a nature has been imparted to the serpent, that the 
creature which before the curse was the most delightful and 
the sweetest of all creatures, is now hated and dreaded above 
every other animal of the creation. Hence we find by experi- 
ence that we have a natural abhorrence of serpents, and that 
serpents as naturally dread and flee from us. Thus the ser- 
pent is indeed made to bear this curse as part of the punish- 
ment of sin. 

These words however are not spoken unto the serpent only, 
God is dealing all the time with Satan in the serpent. It is on 
Satan that this sentence is pronounced, as his final judgment. 
It is Satan that is here placed before God's tribunal. 

For God here speaks to the serpent in far different language 
from that which he used toward Adam and Eve, when he 
called them back in love from their sin. His language then 
was, "Where art thou?" "Who told thee that thou wast 
naked?" All these particulars indicate the love of God towards 
the whole human race ; showing forth that God will seek after 
man and will call him back after he has sinned, that he may 
reason with him and hear what he has to say. All this was a 
sure announcement of grace. For although these words of 
God, spoken to Adam and Eve, were legal and judicial words; 
yet they set before them a hope by no means obscure, that they 
should not be condemned for ever. 

But with the serpent and Satan God by no means dealt so 
mercifully. He did not call Satan to him and say, "Why hast 



thou done this?" He pronounced upon him at once the sen- 
tence of judgment; and that too, in the most awful words, 
"Because thou hast done this." As if he had said, Thou, Satan, 
hadst sinned before this and hadst been condemned, when thou 
didst fall from heaven ; and now to that sin thou hast added 
this one. Thou hast by the abuse of the serpent hurled man 
into sin also. Therefore in the first place the serpent shall bear 
this punishment ; that whereas before it partook of that bless- 
ing which all other beasts also enjoyed; now it alone shall re- 
main under my curse. 

From all these circumstances it must follow as a manifest 
consequence, that the serpent before the sin of the fall was the 
most beautiful creature among the beasts which God had made, 
and most delightful to man ; as are at this day kids, and lambs, 
and kittens to us, and also that it moved with its head erect ; 
and moreover that it now creeps upon the ground is not a 
property of its original nature, but the consequence of the 
divine curse. Just in the same manner as they are the conse- 
quences of the curse, that the woman conceives in uncleanness, 
brings forth in sorrow, and nurses and trains her offspring 
with toils and griefs. Were there no curse the whole process 
of creation would be most pure and holy; the giving birth to 
children most easy and delightful, and the training up of chil- 
dren the highest pleasure. Sin therefore has not only utterly 
corrupted nature itself, but most basely defiled it. 

And yet the human rcasoners even of our day dare to affirm 
that the original properties of nature have remained essentially 
sound and whole, even in devils. But if the serpent, which 
Satan had abused to effect the sin of the fall, bore such a pun- 
ishment on account of that sin ; that whereas before it was 
the most beautiful of all creatures, it now on a sudden crawled 
on the ground upon its belly and drew after it its viperous 
tail before the eyes of Adam, and thus all on a sudden became 
an object of hatred and of dread ; how can we doubt that the 
same was the utterly changed case with the man, who was the 
very one who had committed the sin and had imbibed into his 



very nature the poison of Satan? As therefore the Egyptians 
beheld not without the greatest amazement the rod thrown 
down by Moses suddenly changed into a serpent, just so in 
paradise, immediately upon God's uttering this word of the 
curse, the serpent was changed from a form the most beauti- 
ful into an object the most disgusting and revolting. 

And to this same curse pertains that which God moreover 
said, "And dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." The 
allegorists explain this, as meaning that Satan would render 
men given up to the love of earthly things one with himself 
by deceiving them. But as I have said, God is here speaking 
to the serpent as such and cursing the serpent, causing it to 
bear its punishment of the sin of the fall. For there are other 
beasts which also feed upon the earth, but the serpent eats the 
earth as its curse ; that whereas before it had a certain peculiar 
gift of subtlety and of beauty, and of food also, which it en- 
joyed in common with man, it now bore as its punishment that 
the nature of its food was changed. 

It is the glory of sheep, of oxen and of other beasts, that they 
feed on herbs and even on the fruits of trees, and also that they;, 
produce various things useful for the food of man, such as but- 
ter, milk, their own flesh, etc. The serpent also possessed this 
glory of his feeding in common with the other beasts. But 
now he is cast out from this society, and as it were from this 
common table and common feasting on account of the sin of 
the fall, so that he is not permitted to feed upon even the 
most useless herb; nor on apples, or pears, or nuts, on which 
even the mice feed. These he dare not taste. He eats the 
crude earth only. These arc not my words, but the words of 
Moses; and they teach us that the nature of the serpent is en- 
tirely changed and wholly different from what it originally 

And though I have said, and it is true, that it is to the ser- 
pent that God here speaks, and yet so speaks, that his words 
are directed all the time more expressly against Satan, as the 
following part of the narrative will still more plainly show; 



yet I am by no means satisfied that those things spoken, which 
rightly apply to the nature of the serpent, should be transferred 
allegorically, as intended to be spoken to Satan, like Augus- 
tine transfers them and is followed by Lyra. For the serpent 
and Satan were intimately connected in the sin of the fall, 
though Satan was the principal actor and the serpent only 
the instrument. And therefore it is that they are made alike 
partakers of the punishment. The serpent however bears a 
corporal punishment only. But for Satan, the author and 
agent of the whole, a different judgment is prepared, even 
that judgment concerning which Christ speaks, John 16:11, 
when he says, "Because the prince of this world is judged." 
The description of this judgment will now shortly 'follow, as 
recorded by Moses in the succeeding verses. 

Wherefore when many say that the devil, like the serpent, 
no longer walks erect and that he has lost his original form and 
stature, the things they say are true; but they are quite inap- 
propriate here and have nothing to do with the right interpre- 
tation of the passage now in question. And when I said above, 
that the serpent before the curse of God upon it moved in 
an erect posture, I do not wish to be understood to mean that it 
moved in an upright position as man, but with its neck and 
head erect, as a stag or a peacock. To crawl on its belly there- 
fore after the curse, was the divine judgment on the serpent. 

That which now follows belongs expressly to Satan only. 
And the things here recorded of him by Moses paint forth his 
judgment in far more true colors than any of those foolish and 
out-of-place descriptions of the allegorists. They moreover 
set before us this strong consolation, that the devil is now so 
situated that he cannot attack and harm us at his liberty, as 
he wishes to do and would do, if the Seed of the woman stood 
not directly in his way. 

II. V. 15a. And I will put enmity between thee and the 
woman, and betivecn thy seed and her seed. 

These are the things which are spoken expressly and proper- 
ly to Satan. And they contain his judgment. While in these 



same words of his judgment, there is set before the godly their 
strong consolation. The things above spoken are historical, 
as I have said, and apply to the serpent, which because through 
the abuse of Satan it aided in effecting the sin of Adam and 
Eve, bears as his part of the punishment his ejection from the 
common life, as it were, and from the society of the other ani- 
mals of the creation; being made so different from them that 
he dares not eat the same food nor live in any way like them. 

The present passage might also be allegorically interpreted. 
But the allegories used would be far less appropriate, and they 
would not stand firm in the defense of the truth. For the facts 
of the case arc these : Satan on account of his sin was cast out 
of heaven and condemned ; and no longer goes about in his 
original form as an ox or a hind does, but creeps on the ground ; 
which may signify that he does not attack the godly by open 
force, but uses wiles and devices for their harm and destruc- 
tion; which devices nevertheless the godly when they look into 
the Word see and understand ; and by them they perceive how 
vast his deformity is, and hence dread and abhor him. And 
certainly his creeping on the ground, and not walking upright, 
may well indicate that his tyrannical power is broken and de- 
stroyed, so that he cannot do so much harm to the Church as he 
otherwise would do. These allegories, we repeat, may be used 
in the interpretation of the present text ; but they do not ex- 
plain the meaning of Moses, and therefore they are improper. 
Wherefore, when we speak of Satan, let us ever follow the 
other testimonies of Scripture upon the subject ; for they are 
proper, certain and sure ; such for instance as the following : 
"The devil was a murderer from the beginning, and standcth 
not in the truth, because there is no truth in him ;" and also, 
"When he speaketh a He he speaketh of his own," John 8:44; 
and again, "Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walk- 
eth about seeking whom he may devour," 1 Pet. 5 :8 ; and also, 
where Christ says, "The prince of this world is judged," John. 
In a word, who does not plainly see that the testimony of the 



present passage applies properly to Satan ; and that it is to 
him that the Son of God is here opposed, expressly to prevent 
him from making any attack upon us with open violence, as 
if he had no certain Antagonist! The Church therefore, under 
this protection, is perfectly safe. And not only is Satan de- 
prived of the power of attacking the Church with any open 
violence, but Ins power and desire of harming anything or per- 
son else are also destroyed. Were it not so, he would not suffer 
a single tree to grow to maturity. He would impede and crush 
all things that spring forth in the earth; and would prevent, 
not the birth of men only, but tlie bringing forth of beasts ; 
and would destroy the safety of everything. This insatiable 
desire to harm and to destroy is fully manifest from his ina- 
bility to attack by open violence, and from his doing whatever 
he does by the means of craft, guile and snare. 

We should here moreover carefully observe that these things 
are not spoken by God for the devil's sake. For God does not 
deign to condemn Satan on his own account, by these his 
words; but he deems it sufficient to leave Satan to be con- 
demned by his own conscience. All that God speaks to Satan, 
he speaks for the sake of Adam and Eve; that they may hear 
this judgment of God upon him and may comfort themselves, 
by thus hearing and seeing that God is the adversary to the 
nature of him, who bad inflicted such a wound on man. For 
out of these very words of God to Satan, there begin to shine 
forth grace and mercy ; yea, out of the very midst of that anger, 
which sin and disobedience had so righteously kindled. It is 
here 111 the very midst of the heaviest tlireatenings, that the 
mind of the Father discloses itself ; of a Father, not so angry 
as to cast away his Son, but holding out salvation, yea, promis- 
ing victory over that enemy, who had thus deceived and con- 
quered human nature. 

For though both had sinned in the fall, Satan especially, and 
man through Satan, yet the judgments now pronounced upon 
Satan and upon man are widely different. God does not join 
them together in one and the same punishment, as he might 



righteously have done. He makes the widest distinction be- 
tween them. For although he is angry with man also, who 
obeyed the enemy of God, disregarding God himself, yet the 
divine indignation against Satan is by far the greater. Satan 
God plainly convicts and condemns in the sight of Adam and 
Eve, so that Adam and Eve, from this very condemnation of 
their enemy, might have a little time to recover their breath ; 
and might feel how much more blessed their condition was 
than that of Satan. The first part of the great consolation here 
graciously given lies in this : that the serpent was accused and 
cursed and together with the serpent Satan also, for Adam and 
Eve's sake. Not so much for Satan's judgment and damna- 
tion, as for Adam and Eve's comfort and salvation. 

Wherefore, by this judgment of Satan that sun of consola- 
tion, which had been just before hidden as it wore behind the 
darkness of certain heavy clouds, now rises above those clouds 
and shines with its most heavenly light on the affrighted hearts 
of Adam and Eve. For they not only do not hear themselves 
cursed, as the serpent was, but they hear God declare, that he 
has put them into the ranks of a constituted army against their 
condemned foe; and that too with the hope of an almighty 
help, which the Son of God the Seed of the woman should 
bring unto them. By this therefore the remission of their 
sins and their full reception into grace were plainly revealed 
to Adam and Eve; who were thus perfectly freed from their 
sin and guilt, redeemed from death, and delivered from hell 
and from all those terrors under which they were utterly sink- 
ing in the sight of God. 

Such is the great consolation which arises from the fact 
so carefully to be observed by the godly, that God did not curse 
Adam and Eve as he did the serpent. All that God did to 
Adam and Eve was to put them into an army of continual 
battle with this enemy, that they might not live a life of ease 
and indolence. This very thing therefore turned out for the 
good of man. 

But the chief part of the great consolation here vouchsafed 



was, that although this enemy should ever war by subtlety 
and snares, yet that a Seed should be born, which should bruise 
the serpent's head. For hereby is set forth the final destruction 
of the tyranny of Satan ; although that tyranny will never come 
to its end without a most terrible conflict ; a conflict which must 
be fought out by man. But only reflect how unequal the con- 
flict is ; it is the "heel" only of the man that is in danger ; his 
bead is safe and invincible. On the other hand, it is not the 
tail nor the belly, but the "head" itself of the serpent that is 
to be bruised and crushed under foot by the Seed of the woman. 
And this victory is given also to us all; as Christ plainly 
declares when he says, that after the strong man armed shall 
have been overcome the spoils shall be divided. For the 
Christian is by faith at once made conqueror over sin, the law 
and death ; so that the very gates of hell cannot prevail against 

This first great consolation therefore our first parents and 
their posterity searched into and learned with all diligence, as 
being the original fountain and the fountain head as it were of 
all the promises. For they saw, that had they been left without 
this promise the blessing of generation would have indeed re- 
mained with men, as with all other animals of the creation, but 
it would have been only a begetting and a being born unto 
death. That great blessing bestowed of God upon human 
nature is here highly increased, yea, consecrated; seeing that 
the hope hereby added to the blessing of generation, is such 
that through it the head of Satan shall be utterly crushed ; and 
that not only his tyranny shall be destroyed but that human 
nature itself, thus made subject to death through sin, shall 
attain unto eternal life. For Moses is now no longer dealing 
in his narrative with the natural serpent ; he is now speaking of 
the devil, whose "head" is formed of death and sin ; as Christ 
describes him when he says, John 8 44, that he was "a mur- 
derer from the beginning, and a liar, and the father of it." 
Therefore, whenever and wherever his power is destroyed; 
that is, when sin and death are taken away by Christ, what 



remains but that the children of God shall be saved ! 

It was in this manner therefore that Adam and Eve under- 
stood this text and comforted themselves against sin and 
despair by the revealed hope of this future crushing of the 
serpent's head, by Christ, the Seed of the woman. And through 
this, their hope in the promise thus given unto them, they shall 
also rise again at the last day unto life eternal. 

V. 15b. He shall bruise thy head, and thou shah bruise his 


Who is not filled with wonder, yea, rather with execration, at 
the malicious design of Satan in having attempted to transfer 
this divine text, so full and running over with consolation con- 
cerning the Son of God, to the Virgin Mary ! For in all the 
Latin Bibles, the pronoun ipse is put in the feminine gender 
ipsa, "She shall bruise." And Lyra, who was by no means 
unacquainted with the Hebrew language, was carried away by 
this error as by the violence of an overflowing and resistless 
stream into the same impious interpretation; so that in the 
face of its plain meaning, he interpreted the passage as ap- 
plying to the blessed Virgin ; making her the person, by whom 
the power of Satan should be broken through the mediation of 
her Son. And he applies to the Virgin also that passage in the 
Song, "Thou art terrible as an army with banners." And, 
although Lyra professes to hold this interpretation of the pres- 
ent passage as received from others, yet his sin is great in not 
refuting it. Many afterwards followed him. And all the 
more recent interpreters have perverted this most holy passage 
to serve idolatry, finding no one to stop or resist them. 

AH this however has arisen either from the ignorance or 
negligence of the rulers in the Church. Because these did not 
set themselves against idolatry, sound doctrine was by degrees 
suppressed and became extinct. And since we have now by 
the blessing of God restored the sound doctrine, these disgrace- 
ful beasts, given to serve the belly, plainly show that they care 
not for religion, but for their own benefices only. And because 
such idolatry promotes the interests of these men, they even 



show their indignation at people being taught the truth. But 
these blind beings do not see that the Gospel is a doctrine of the 
divine nature, that those who receive it lose nothing by it but 
their sins and eternal death ; and that they gain in their Stead 
deliverance from all idolatry and from the dominion of Satan. 

Wherefore let us render thanks to God that we have this pas- 
sage also restored to its full integrity. Not that thereby any 
honor due to Mary might be taken from her, but that all 
idolatry might be shut out. For as to men saying that Mary 
crushed all the power of Satan by giving birth to Christ; if 
that be the true staLe of the case does not that same honor be- 
long equally to all the other women who preceded Mary in the 
same line of geueology? Nay, a part of this same honor per- 
tains to ail the husbands also in Mary's line and to all her 
ancestors. For had she not descended from all these as her 
forefathers, she herself could not have had existence. For she 
was born by marriage according to the common order of 
nature. If Mary, by the act of giving birth to her Son, bruised 
the head of Satan, all the ancestors of Mary must of necessity 
be ranked in the same degree of dignity and honor. 

The Scripture however teaches us very differently, when it 
says that Christ ''died for our sins and rose again for our justi- 
fication," Rom. 4:25; and when it said, "Behold the Lamb 
of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" John 1 :2<}. 
Wherefore let the blessed Virgin hold her place of due honor, 
as the woman whom God adorned with that high privilege 
above all other women, that she as a virgin should bring forth 
the Son of God. This honor however ought by no means so 
to be bestowed upon her, as in any way to take from her Son, 
our Lord, the glory of our redemption and of our deliverance 
from sin and death. 

Moreover, the peculiar expression of the holy Scripture in 
this passage is most carefully to be held and guarded by us, as 
affording a truly wonderful light which opens unto us the 
depth of the divine goodness, revealed to us in the present 
sacred text ; where we are taught concerning that enmity which 



God put between the serpent and the woman; such an enmity 
that the Seed of the woman should crush the serpent with all his 
powers. This crushing, Satan perfectly understood at the 
time, and therefore it is that to this day he rages with so much 
hatred against our human nature. Adam and Eve on the 
contrary, raised up by the promise of this crushing, conceived 
the hope of their restoration in all its fulness. And being thus 
filled with faith Ihey saw that their salvation would assuredly 
be God's peculiar care ; seeing that God had expressly testified, 
that the male Seed of the woman should utterly defeat and 
crush this their enemy. For the words are divinely put to- 
gether with a wonderful emphasis. 

III. The divine expression here is, "I will put enmity be- 
tween thy seed and her seed." As if God had said, Thou, Satan, 
by means of the woman didst attack and seduce the man that 
thou mightest by means of sin be the head and lord over them. 
I therefore in like manner will execute my secret purposes 
against thee by means of the very same instrument. I will 
take hold of the woman, and by her I will produce a Seed; 
and that Seed shall bruise thy head. Thou by means of sin 
didst corrupt and make subject to death the flesh of the human 
nature. I will produce from that same flesh such a man, who 
shall crush and utterly defeat both thee and all thy powers. 

By these divine words therefore both the promise and the 
threat were expressed with the most perfect plainness. And 
yet they were most obscure. For they left the devil in such a 
state of doubt and suspense that he held under suspicion all 
the women which brought forth from that time, fearing lest 
they should give birth to this Seed; though one woman only 
was designed to be the mother of this blessed offspring. There- 
fore as the divine threatening was expressed in a general term, 
"her Seed," Satan was so mocked thereby that he feared this 
Seed from every woman who brought forth. 

In the same proportion, on the other hand, the faith of all 
mankind was confirmed. For, from the hour in which the 
divine promise was made, all men expected that promised Seed, 



and comforted themselves against Satan. Hence it was that 
Eve, when she brought forth her first-born, Cain, hoped that 
she had now "gotten" that bruiser of the head of Satan. And 
though she was deceived in that hope, yet she saw that the 
promised Seed would assuredly at length be born at some time 
or other from her posterity. And thus, with respect to all man- 
kind also, this promise was most clear and at the same time 
most obscure. 

Isaiah threw some additional light upon this glorious promise 
when he said, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son," 
Is. 7:14. For it was then made certain that this Seed would 
not be born from the union of a man and a woman. But the 
prophet added certain other particulars, by which he still 
involved his prophecy in obscurity. In such obscurity there- 
fore this most clear promise still remained until Mary had 
brought forth her Son. Of this birth then angels themselves 
were witnesses; and after the angels the shepherds and the 
wise men; until this birth was proclaimed abroad by the 
apostles, throughout the whole world. 

This obscurity therefore tended to increase the concern and 
suspense of Satan to the highest degree. As it had been said, 
"I will put enmity between thee and the woman ;" so Satan 
suspected and held as his enemy every woman alike, who gave 
birth to a child from the time that word was spoken until 
Christ was revealed. On the other hand, with respect to man, 
this same obscurity increased and strengthened his faith. 
Though each woman saw that she was not the mother who 
gave birth to this Seed, yet they all believed and were fully 
assured that this Seed would be born from some other woman. 

God having thus spoken individually or personally, if I may 
so express it, that very manner of expression tended most ef- 
fectually to mock and rack Satan, and to console the godly 
and to raise them to faith and hope. Thus women continued 
to bring forth until the Flood; and afterwards also, until the 
time of Mary. But the seed of none of those women could 
truly be said to be the Seed of the woman, but might rather be 



s-aid to have been the seed of the man. But that which was 
born from Mary was conceived of the Holy Ghost and was 
the true Seed of Mary, the appointed woman. This the other 
promises also testify, which were made to Abraham and to 
David; according to which promises Christ was called "the 
Son of Abraham" and "the Son of David." 

The meaning of the original promise here given Isaiah first 
revealed, when he prophesied "that a virgin should conceive 
and bear a son," Is. 7:14. Afterwards, a clearer explanation 
and confirmation of it was made by the angel in the New Testa- 
ment. Wherefore I doubt not that there were many saints 
under the Old Testament, who did not understand this mystery, 
but who nevertheless fully expected that Christ would be born 
into this world of a woman, and that he would be the deliverer 
of the human race; though they knew not what would be the 
particular manner and circumstances of his birth. With this 
general knowledge they were content and by this knowledge 
they were saved; even though they knew not the manner in 
which Christ would be conceived and born. For this knowl- 
edge was reserved for the New Testament to reveal, as by 
the clearer and brighter light. And it was set forth In the, 
first age of the Church with a greater obscurity, purposely 
on account of Satan, whom God willed to be mocked and racked 
in this manner that he might thereby have less rest and be 
more filled with fear on every side. 

Wherefore after this great original promise had been thus 
set forth generally in the beginning and had by degrees been 
more circumstantially particularized, and then confined to the 
seed of Abraham ; and further restricted by means of the patri- 
arch Jacob to a certain tribe, the tribe of Judah; after this 
the devil became unconcerned about other peoples and tribes, 
and persecuted this one line of generation with marvelous 
cruelties and stratagems ; until about the time of Christ it had 
been reduced to the extremest poverty and had become a hope- 
less trunk-root, from which no one could hope for either fruit 
or leaves. And hence it is that the Scriptures term that line of 



succession a "stem" or bare root as it were of Jesse, Is. n :i, 
signifying thereby a decaying trunk from which nothing what- 
ever could be expected. 

This hatred and this fury of Satan are the effects produced 
on him, which the Lord here predicts, when he warns the 
serpent of the enmity which he had put between his seed and 
the Seed of the woman. For Satan primarily sought this Seed 
of the woman with hostile hatred, through all the peoples, 
families and lines throughout the whole world. When the 
promise was transferred to Abraham and restricted to his 
posterity, we see from history by what various means Satan 
attempted to hinder its fulfilment. And when this glorious 
promise was further transferred to the line of Judah and re- 
stricted to that tribe, we behold with what horrible calamities 
it was oppressed and agitated, until at length it seemed to be 
wholly subverted and eradicated. So that at the time of the 
birth of Christ poor Mary was living at a long distance from 
Jerusalem in the little and insignificant town of Nazareth, and 
Jerusalem itself was possessed and governed by wicked heathen. 
Wherefore most correctly and beautifully was this tribe of 
Judah compared to a dead and hopeless "stem" of Jesse. But 
as God cannot lie, this "root," so much decayed and despaired 
of, at length blossomed forth. 

Satan however did not even then cease from his cruelty, 
hatred and enmity against the Seed of the woman. While he 
lay in the cradle Satan sought him out by the instrumentality 
of Herod. So that the new-born Christ was compelled to live 
among the Gentiles in Egypt. After this also, Satan adopted 
and tried all possible means to destroy him, until finding him 
and seizing him, he threw him into the hands of the Jews and 
nailed him to the cross. No ! nor could his inexhaustible hatred 
be satisfied even then. He feared him even as he lay in the 
tomb, so desperate was the enmity which was "put" between 
him and the Son of God ! Nay, even now, when Satan sees 
the Seed of the woman sitting at the right hand of God, and, 
according to the old proverb, "out of gun-shot," he vents his 



fury in every possible way against his Church and the poor 
helpless members of his body. Of all these sufferings and 
perils the clauses of the divine passage now before us were 
prophecies. From these same words nevertheless, in meditat- 
ing upon which we ought to employ our whole souls, we 
derive a confidence in the Son of God, that he will bruise Satan 

But to return to the text. This promise, as I have already 
said, is at the same time most clear and yet most obscure. For 
since God, as I have also observed, here uses the expression, 
"The seed of the woman" generally, he does it that he might 
cause all women alike to be suspected by Satan, and that he 
might thus rack the serpent with perpetual suspense and dread. 
The expression therefore is a wonderful synecdoche, "conden- 
sation of instruction." It bears a general reference to all indi- 
vidual women, and yet contains a direct reference to one indi- 
vidual woman only, to Mary and to her Seed, who was to be- 
come a mother without any intercourse with the male sex. For 
God, I repeat, thus willed all women to be suspected by Satan, 
while on the other hand he willed thai a most sure hope should 
be left to the godly, which should lead them to expect this 
salvation from all parents until in the fullness of time the true 
mother should be revealed. As therefore the first clause of 
the passage, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman," 
refers to all women in general ; so this second clause, "her 
Seed" refers, with a special individually, if I may so express 
myself, to that seed which should be born of Mary, of the tribe 
of Judah, who was espoused unto Joseph. 

This text therefore contains that glorious promise which re- 
vived Adam and Eve and raised them again from death unto 
that life, which they had lost by their sin; though the life to 
which they were thus raised again was rather a life hoped for 
than a life possessed ; as Paul also frequently speaks when he 
uses the language, "We die daily." For although we do not 
wish to call the life which we live here death, yet it is in truth 
nothing more or less than a continual living on to death. For 



as he who is infected with a pestilential and fatal disease begins 
to die from the moment of his infection ; so from the moment 
this life of ours is infected by sin, it can no longer properly 
be called life on account of that sin and death, its sure punish- 
ment. For we begin to die even from our mother's womb. 

But by baptism we arc restored to the life of hope, or rather 
to the hope of life. For this is the true life, which we live, 
before God, in our renewed state. Before we come unto that 
life, we are in the midst of death. We are ever dying and 
rotting on the earth like other carcasses arc ; as if there were 
no life at all in us. But we who believe in Christ possess a 
hope that we shall be raised again at the last day unto the life 
eternal. It was in this manner also that Adam was raised 
again from his state of death by sin through this promise, thus 
spoken by the Lord. Not that he was raised to a perfect life ; 
for he did not as yet regain that life which he had lost. But 
he conceived in his soul a hope of that perfect life, when he 
heard that the tyranny of Satan was thus to be bruised and 

Under the divine mind and promise, declared in this text 
therefore, is included redemption from the law, from sin and 
from death. And by the same text is set forth the plain and 
certain hope of resurrection from the dead, and of being called 
into another life after the present. For if the "head" of the 
serpent is to be destroyed, most certainly death js to be 
destroyed also; and if death is to be destroyed, with equal 
certainty that which deserveth death, namely, sin, is also to be 
abolished. And if sin is to be abolished, so also is the law; 
and not only so, but that obedience which was lost is to be 
restored. And as all these things are promised through this 
Seed of the woman, it is perfectly manifest, as a natural con- 
sequence, that human nature since the fall can neither take 
away sin by any powers of its own nor escape death, the just 
punishment of sin, uor regain the obedience to God, which it 
has lost by the sin of the fall. For all these things require a 
greater power, a mightier strength than is possessed by man. 



Hence it was absolutely necessary that the Son of God should 
become a victim or sacrifice for us, that by the offering of him- 
self he might accomplish all these things for us ; that he might 
take away sin, swallow up death and restore unto us the 
obedience which we had lost. All these treasures therefore 
we do possess in Christ, but in hope. Thus Adam, and thus 
Eve, lived and conquered by this hope. And in the same 
manner all believers live and conquer, by the same hope, and 
will so live and conquer until the last day. Death is indeed a 
horrible and invincible tyrant ; but the divine power thus makes 
that, which is in all things horrible, nothing; just as the same 
power of God made out of that which was nothing all tilings. 
For only behold Adam and Eve. They were filled with sins 
and with death. But as soon as they heard the divine promise 
concerning the Seed of the woman, which should bruise the 
serpent's "head," they were comforted by the same hope 
which comforts us, that death shall be destroyed, and sin shall 
be abolished, and that righteousness and life and peace shall 
be restored. In this hope did our first parents live and die, 
and on account of that hope they were truly holy and righteous. 
In the same hope do we also live. And when we come to 
die, we hold fast this hope of eternal life for Christ's sake, 
which hope the Word always sets before us, while it com- 
mands us to trust in the merits of Christ. But in vain do we 
expect to attain unto that perfection in this life, that we should 
be altogether righteous, that we should love God perfectly and 
that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. We do indeed 
begin and make progress, but sin which is in our members 
ever wars against us and is ever present ; so that it ever mars 
or altogether prevents this our obedience. 

As therefore this life of ours, on account of the death within 
us and before us, may truly be called a death ; so righteousness 
is altogether buried under our sins. It is in hope therefore 
alone that we hold fast life and righteousness, as things 
altogether hidden from our sight, but which will be revealed 
in their time. Meanwhile our life is a life in the midst of 



death; and yet, in the midst of this death, we hold fast the 
hope of life by the teaching, commanding and promising Spirit 
of God. This consolation is blessedly set forth in, Ps. 68 :2, 
"He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto God 
the Lord belong the issues from death." For we ascribe to 
our God the great glory that he not only helps us in this 
temporal life, as the devil sometimes stands by his worshippers* 
as is manifest from numberless examples among the heathen; 
but the glory which belongs to our God, is that "to the Lord 
our God belong the issues from death ;" that he delivers from 
death those who are oppressed thereby on account of their 
sins and translates them into eternal life, Col. I :i3. And our 
God does this as Moses here teaches us by crushing the "head" 
of the serpent. 

In this part of the divine histoiy of Moses therefore we 
have Adam and Eve restored, not indeed perfectly into that 
life which they had lost, but into the hope of that life, by 
which hope they have escaped, not indeed the first taste of that 
death, but the whole eternal substance of it. That is, although 
their flesh was sentenced to suffer and was compelled to suffer 
a temporal or momentary taste of death, yet, on account of the 
promised Son of God, who should crush the head of the devil, 
they hoped for a resurrection of the flesh and a life eternal 
after the temporal death of the flesh, which hope we also have. 

Next follows the other part of this divine speech, in which 
God first threatens her temporal punishment to the woman and 
then to the man his temporal punishment also. 


V. 16. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy 
pain and thy conception; in pain thou shalt bring forth chil- 
dren; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule 
over thee. 

This is the punishment which was inflicted on the woman; 
but a punishment full indeed of joy and gladness, because it 



varied not in the least from the sentence just before pronounced 
on Satan. For seeing that the glorious promise still remained 
that the head of the serpent should be crushed, there was a 
sure hope of a resurrection from death. And whatever is im- 
posed on man as the punishment of his sin is possible to be 
borne, because this hope remains to him firm and sure. And 
this is the reason the Holy Scriptures are so very careful not 
to say anything in the punishment of the woman, which should 
be contrary to or at all militate against the sentence just before 
pronounced against the serpent. God did indeed impose a 
punishment on the woman, but he still left her the hope of a 
resurrection and of a life eternal. The death which she had 
deserved by her sin God transferred on the other and less 
honorable part of man, namely, on the flesh; that the spirit 
might live, because of righteousness through faith as the 
apostle says, Rom. 8:10, "The body is dead because of sin, 
but the spirit is life because of righteousness." 

The woman therefore is subject to death as to the flesh, but 
as to the hope set before her she is free from death. For that 
divine word, by which God threatens the devil with the "Bruis- 
ing of his head," remains ever sure to her. The animal life 
therefore hath, as here declared, its cross and its death; as 
Paul also said, "The natural body dies, but is raised a spiritual 
body," 1 Cor. 15:44. So also in this natural or animal life 
there remains marriage, and the woman experiences those 
punishments on account of her sin, which the Lord here in- 
flicts upon her ; that from the time of her conception and at 
the time of giving birth and rearing children, she endures 
various pains and perils all that part of her life which she lives 
in a child-bearing state. All these evils and sorrows however 
pertain to the animal life or to the flesh itself only. But there 
remains to her all the while the hope here given her of a 
spiritual and eternal life after this present life. 

This punishment of the woman therefore, if we truly and 
rightly consider the whole matter, is in its holy reality a glad 
and joyful punishment. For although the righteous burdens 



imposed are painful to the flesh to bear, yet by means of these 
very burdens and punishment, her hope of a better and eternal 
life is actually strengthened. For Eve on the present critical 
occasion hears in the first place that she was not cast off of 
God for her sin. And in the next place she is not by her pun- 
ishment deprived of that blessing of generation and fruitful - 
ncss which was promised to her and freely given to her of 
God before her sin. She sees that she still retains her sex; 
that she is still a woman ! She sees that she is not separated 
from her Adam, to remain and live alone, separated from her 
husband. She sees that the glory of maternity is still left her ; 
she may still be a mother! And all these blessings of this 
present natural life are left to her, in addition to that promised 
hope of life eternal. This multitude of mercies, which was 
still reserved for her, no doubt wonderfully revived and glad- 
dened the mind of Eve. Nay, a greater and more real glory 
still awaited her ; she not only retained the blessing of fruitful- 
ness and of continuing in marriage union with her husband, but 
she possessed also the sure promise that from her should come 
that Seed which should "bruise the head" of Satan. 

Eve therefore, without doubt, in this her most sad experience, 
for sad it must have appeared to her, had yet her bosom filled 
with joy. And it is very likely that she consoled her Adam 
with words like these; "I have sinned. But only see how 
merciful a God we have ! What large blessings, both temporal 
and spiritual, has he still left to us sinners. Wherefore, we 
women will cheerfully bear this labor and this sorrow of con- 
ceiving and bringing forth children, and of obeying you, our 
husbands. This is indeed fatherly anger 1 for we have still 
remaining also the promise that the 'head' of our enemy shall 
be 'crushed:' and promise that we shall be raised again unto 
another life after the death of our flesh through our Redeemer. 
The greatness of all these blessings and this infinite multitude 
of benefits far surpass whatever of curse or punishment our 
Father has been pleased to lay upon us." These and like con- 
versations Adam and Eve, no doubt, often held together to 



alleviate their temporal sorrows. 

In this same manner also, ought we to contemplate the un- 
speakable treasures we possess in our hope of the life to come 
and by such meditations ought we to lessen the troubles of 
the flesh. This is what we find the Apostle Paul doing, 2 Cor. 
4:17, 18, "For our light affliction, which is for the moment, 
worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of 
glory ; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at 
the things which are not seen ; for the tilings which are seen 
are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 

Now tell me if all the temporal afflictions which may be laid 
on them, will not be borne resignedly and patiently by those 
persons who are enabled to lay hold of the hope of future 
glory and to believe in God, here promising the "crushing of 
the serpent's head," and who can moreover look upon those 
temporal blessings which remain to us ; that our Lord hath 
given us this whole world to enjoy, and that he has given us 
wives, homes and children, and has preserved all things to 
us and increases them by his blessing? And will they not say, 
"That is not the anger of a judge nor a tyrant, but of a father!" 
On the other hand however, they will behold the anger of the 
judge falling upon the serpent. In his case there is not only 
no deliverance promised, but a certain "crushing of his head" 
foretold. And this anger of the judge Satan felt at the time, 
and he feels it still. And it is on this very account that he rages 
with such great and unceasing fury against the Church and the 
Son of God, until the last day shall come. 

The divine threatening therefore in this passage where the 
Lord threatens Eve with the sure punishments of her sin, was 
indeed a heavy threatening. But out of the midst of those 
very punishments there beamed forth unspeakable mercy. And 
this mercy so revived and strengthened Eve that she rejoiced 
with a heart full of gladness, even in the midst of her sorrows. 
And as to ourselves we feel how necessary these punishments 
are to crucify and keep under the Mesh. For how could we 
be humbled if our nature were not pressed down to the earth 



with burdens like these? Eve therefore experienced and every 
woman of her station and duty must experience these sure 
calamities. These sorrows must be multiplied unto all women. 
They must both conceive in sorrow and bring forth in sorrow. 

It is moreover worthy of observation, that the Hebrew ex- 
pression here used is rais, which signifies both a continuous 
and distinct quantity ; conveying to us the thought that these 
great and many and various sorrows, thus righteously inflicted 
on Eve, were such as she would not have had to endure, if she 
had not fallen by sin ; and the expression also implies the 
sorrows ami punishments inflicted particularly on conception 
and childbirth. This same expression signifies by its implied 
meaning the whole of that time, "conception," during which 
the child is home in the womb, which time is afflicted with 
great and various weaknesses, pains and diseases. The head, 
the stomach, the general health and the appetites are variously 
and greatly affected. And after the child is matured and the 
birth is at hand, the greatest sorrow of all is endured ; and the 
child is not born without great peril even of life. 

When the heathen and those who have no knowledge of God 
or of his works see these things, they take such offence at 
thein that they form the conclusion that, on account of these 
various troubles, it is not becoming a wise man to marry at 
all. And true it is that the female sex is far more deeply 
humbled and afflicted, and bears a punishment far more heavy 
and severe than men. For what sufferings of the body, equal 
to those we just described, does man endure? But by marriage 
the husband docs take upon himself as it were a part of these 
punishments of original sin; for the husband cannot see his 
wife endure all this pain and sorrow without much distress 
in himself. So that many wicked men prefer living a life of 
profligacy to a life of marriage. 

Against such wicked sentiments as these the godly will arm 
and console themselves; and by true wisdom will set against 
these evils the certain and far greater blessings which attend 
the married life. Hence the ancient heathen poet Pindar, in his 



Ode to Hiero, King of Syracuse, condemns this pervcrseness 
in ignorant men. Though God, says he, is ever wont so to 
dispense his benefits as to leave some evil intermingled with 
them, yet none but the wise and good can carry themselves 
aright under them. For they adorn their prosperity ; and under 
its bright colors they hide the adversity which they endure, 
Setting their prosperity ever foremost to be seen of men : 
"To one good thing, two evil things, 
The gods appoint. Fools 
Know not how to adorn their ills. 
But wise men do: making the 
Worst, to wear the best appearance." 

Pind. Pytlt. Ode iii. 145-150. 

And this is what the godly ought ever to do in this their 
solemn case. The punishments, to which women are subject 
on account of the sin of the fall, are indeed great. But is there 
not in marriage a blessing which infinitely surpasses all the 
punishments of original sin with which it is afflicted? Have 
not those who are married in the midst of their great troubles 
that sure hope of immortality and eternal life which comes to 
them through the Seed of the woman ! 

Nay, the troubles and trials themselves of marriage are not 
without their benefit. They all tend to break down and humble 
our nature, which cannot be humbled without the cross. 

And in the third place there is left to be enjoyed in these 
great bodily afflictions the peculiar glory of motherhood : that 
high blessing of the womb ! This was a blessing which even 
the wise among the heathen so greatly admired and so loudly 
lauded. And other good gifts of marriage also remain to us 
and are enjoyed by us. We are borne in the womb of our 
mothers, we suck their breasts, we are nursed, we are nour- 
ished, and by the devoted attention and care of our mothers 
we are preserved in infancy and childhood. To view the great 
and solemn matter of marriage thus, is "to set our blessings 
in their fairest light." This is not to look at our evils only, 
but to delight ourselves in the benefits and the great blessing 

3 to 


of God in his holy ordinance of marriage; and under those 
benefits and that blessing, to sink out of sight the various 
punishments, corruptions, pains and afflictions by which it is 

But the godly alone understand these things and do them. 
They alone view marriage aright. They alone give honor unto 
women, as unto the weaker vessel ; because they see them to be 
their companions of immortality as well as of mortality, and as 
being heirs together with them of the inheritance in heaven. 
The godly moreover behold them highly honored of the Lord 
by the blessing and the glory of motherhood. By them we 
are conceived, from them we are born, by them we are nursed 
in infancy. 

And for myself I have often contemplated with wonder and 
delight the peculiar adaptation of the female body for nursing 
infants. How aptly, becomingly and gracefully, do even little 
girls carry infants in their bosom? And with what appro- 
priate gestures do mothers dandle their infants, especially when 
the crying babe is to be pacified or quieted so as to be laid in 
the cradle? Only tell a man to do these same things and he 
will set about it as an elephant would attempt to dance; so 
awkward are his motions, if he has only to touch a babe with 
his finger, to say nothing about all those other offices and at- 
tentions which a mother only can perform. Whoever there- 
fore rightly views and estimates the sacred matter of marriage 
will receive all these offices and services of the woman as signs 
and proofs of the blessing of the Lord, by which God testifies 
that the female sex, though thus severely punished on account 
of their original sin, are very dear to him and his peculiar care. 
Wherefore let these meditations suffice concerning the first 
part of the divine curse on the original sin of Eve. 

The other part of the curse lies in the particulars of the 
marriage union. If Eve had not sinned, her childbirth wpuld 
not only have been without any pain, but even her union with 
her husband would have been most pure and utterly free from 
all shame. There would have been no more shame attached 



to those connubial circumstances than there is in a man s taking 
his meal with his wife and conversing with her at the dinner- 
table. The bringing up of children also would have been most 
easy and full of pleasure. But all these blessings were lost 
by the sin of the fall, and in their place are endured by the 
woman all those too well-known evils of pain and labor in 
carrying the child, bringing it forth and bringing it up. Where- 
fore just as a graceful maiden weaves a beautiful chaplet from 
the flowers of the garden and bears it on her head, not only 
without any molestation but with the greatest pleasure and 
the greatest pride; so, if Eve had not sinned, she would have 
borne her child in her womb not only free from distress or 
inconvenience, but with the utmost pleasure and pride. Where- 
as now, in addition to all those pains of bearing the child and 
giving it birth, she has rendered herself subject to the power of 
her husband; while before she was wholly free and in no 
sense inferior to the man, and was an equal partaker of all the 
endowments bestowed by God on him. 

This then is the punishment of the woman, which righteously 
fell upon her as the consequence of original sin, which she 
bears quite as unwillingly as she does those pains and troubles, 
righteously imposed on her flesh in child-bearing. Wherefore 
the rule and government of all things remain in the power of 
the husband whom the wife according to the command of God 
is bound to obey. The husband rules the house, governs the 
state politic, conducts wars, defends his own property, culti- 
vates the earth, builds, plants, etc. The woman on the other 
hand as a nail driven into the wall sits at home. Hence it is 
that the Apostle Paul calls women oikourous, "keepers at 
home," Titus 2 :5- For this same reason the ancients repre- 
sented Venus sitting on a shell ; because as the shell-fish always 
carries its shell with it, so the woman ought always to be con- 
stantly at home attending to her domestic affairs ; as one de- 
prived of the right of governing outside of her house and in 
public, and as one whose duty is never to go beyond her own 
most private and domestic concerns in the matter of govern- 



Had Eve therefore stood in the truth she would not only 
have been free from all subjection to the rule of the man, but 
she herself also would have been an equal partaker of govern- 
ment, which now belongs to men alone. Women however are 
generally impatient of this burden and by nature aim at the 
assumption of that, which by their sin they have lost ; and when 
they can do nothing more they at least show their unwilling- 
ness to bear the yoke by a murmur of discontent. Whereas they 
are not competent to undertake the management of men's 
affairs, of teaching, ruling, etc. Of bearing children, and of 
feeding, nursing and bringing up their offspring they are capa- 
ble. In this manner therefore was Eve punished ; and all wom- 
ankind endure the same curse. But, as I have before said, this 
very punishment is a joyful one, if you look at the hope of 
eternal life which springs from her Seed, out of the midst of 
her child-bearing pains ; and if you consider also the glory of 
maternity or motherhood left to her. 

II. V, 17. And unto Adam he mid, "Because thou hast 
hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the 
tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat 
of it : cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou 
eat of it all the days of thy life." 

The husband was last in the transgression, 1 Tim. 2:14, and 
therefore the punishment is inflicted on him last. But the Lord 
threatens no punishment to the man here in generation. God 
makes no mention of the pains of generation in his case. There- 
fore the punishment of the husband lies in the fury of lust, 
inflamed by the poison of Satan throughout his whole body, 
but without the pains of the woman. His duties as husband 
however are laden with punishment. For, as it belongs to the 
man to feed, to rule, to guide and to educate his family, those 
duties cannot be performed by him without great trouble and 
distress nor without the hardest labors. The duty laid of God 
upon the woman is to obey her husband ; but with what dif- 
ficulty is this very performance of her duty obtained! I say 
nothing about the rule of the man over others, who are not 



of his immediate family and household. 

Hence it was that the philosophers of old were led to wonder 
from what cause in nature it could possibly arise that men 
could govern any wild beast more easily than rule their fellow- 
men. This is the ground of Xenophon's complaint, when he 
says, "It is easier to manage any other animal than to rule 
man." The duties of a husband indeed are great and noble, 
which are to cultivate the earth and to perfom any other work 
by which his wife and children may be supported to rule his 
house and family; to govern states and kingdoms; and to 
teach and instruct those of his own house and others also unto 
godliness and moral duties. All these noble duties however are 
always attended with their punishment of original sin. They 
cannot be performed without the greatest distress, of which 
we have examples before our eyes daily. 

First of all on account of the sin of Adam himself the earth 
is cursed. For the expression the Latin translation renders 
"in thy work," in opere tuo, is in the original Hebrew 
baabueecha, "for thy sake," propter fe. The Latin interpreter 
was deceived by the similarity of the letters. He read the 
Hebrew as being baabudecha. For abad signifies "to cul- 
tivate the earth" or "to till the ground." 

From this it appears how awful the calamity of sin is, see- 
ing that even the earth, which is innocent in itself and com- 
mitted no sin, is nevertheless compelled to bear sin's curse; 
and as the Apostle Paul expresses it, Rom. 8:20, 21, is "made 
subject to vanity," from which however it shall be delivered 
in the last day and for which also it waits in earnest expec- 
tation, verse 19. For Pliny calls the earth "a kind, gentle 
and indulgent mother and also a perpetual handmaid of ser- 
vice to mankind." And yet as the Apostle Paul here shows, 
this kind earth herself is compelled to bear her curse also. 
In the first place, because she does not bear those good 
things for man and beast which she would have borne had 
man not fallen ; and in the next place, because she does bear 
many hurtful things, which but for man's sin she would not 



have borne, such as the destructive weeds, darnel, tares, net- 
tles, thorns, thistles, etc., to which may be added, poison, 
noxious reptiles and other like hurtful things, brought into 
the creation by sin. 

For my own part I entertain no doubt that before the sin 
of the fall the air was more pure and healthful, the water 
more wholesome and fructifying, and the light of the sun 
more bright and beautiful. So that the whole creation as it 
now is reminds us in every part of the curse inflicted on it, 
on account of the sin of the fall. Yet some remnants of the 
original blessing of God still rest upon it ; in that being com- 
pelled as it were to do so by the hard labor of man, it still 
continues to produce things necessary for our use, although 
those very things are impeded and deformed by briers and 
thorns; that is, by useless and noxious trees, bushes and 
weeds, which the divine anger ceases not to sow among 

This original curse moreover was afterwards greatly in- 
creased by the Deluge, when all the good trees were rooted 
up and destroyed, barren sands accumulated and both nox- 
ious herbs and beasts multiplied. In those very places 
where Adam before his sin used to walk among the most 
fruitful trees, over most fertile meadows and in the midst 
of roses and flowers of every kind, there nettles and briers, 
and other annoying plants abound; and in such quantities 
that the good and useful plants are well nigh choked by 
them. Only look at the field now just prepared by the plow 
for receiving the seed ; no sooner is that seed sown than im- 
mediately there spring up the destructive darnel and the 
tares, which grow even faster than the fruits which are for 
the use and nourishment of life. And if the former were not 
plucked up by the constant care and toil of the husband- 
man, they would daily grow to such an extent that these 
very destructive weeds of the curse would choke the good 
seed altogether. The earth herself indeed is innocent and 
would of its own free nature bring forth all things which 



are the best and most excellent. TW she is prevented from 
doing so by the curse inflicted on man for his sin. 

As therefore woman endures the punishment of sin in 
her body, a punishment she is mercifully enabled to bear, 
with which she is afflicted in the bringing forth of children ; 
so the husband has to endure his punishment in the govern- 
ment of his hoiisehold ; while, with all kinds of difficulty, 
labor and distress, he rules his house and provides for his 
family. And justly so ; for it was on his own account that 
the field was cursed. Whereas before lie sinned no part of 
the earth was either barren or corrupt, but all places in it 
were marvelously fertile and productive ; but now, 011 the 
contrary, not only is it in many parts entirely barren, but 
even those parts, which are otherwise fruitful, are deformed 
and defiled with tares, weeds, briers and thorns. And this 
calamity is indeed great, and might well drive Adam him- 
self and us all to choose strangling rather than life. But the 
whole mighty evil is rendered endurable by the promise of 
the woman's "Seed," by which the punishment of eternal 
death, which is infinitely greater than all this punishment 
of life, is wholly taken out of the way. 

That which next follows, "In sorrow shalt thou eat of it 
all the days of thy life," are words quite easy to understand. 
For who knows not how laborious the life of an husbandman 
is. It is not enough that he prepare the ground for receiving 
the seed, which is attended with great and various labor; 
but even when the corn is yet in the blade, each single day 
almost demands of him its necessary labor and toil ; not to 
mention those almost infinite hindrances of weather, noxious 
vermin, etc., all which greatly augment his pain, labor and suf- 
fering. Whereas before the sin of the fall, not only were there 
no such evils and hindrances in existence, but the earth, had 
Adam not sinned, would have brought forth all things 
quicker than the hope or expectation of man, as it wer;\ 
"unsown and unplowed." 

Moreover this calamity, which sin brought into the crea- 



tion, was in many respects lighter and more tolerable in 
their state before the Flood than in the condition of the 
world which followed. In the antediluvian state of the 
curse no other mention is made than of thorns, and thistles, 
and labor, and sweat ; but now we experience numberless 
other additional evils. How many diseases and pestilential 
injuries are inflicted on the standing corn, on the plants 
of pulse, on trees, and finally on all the productions of the 
earth? How many evils are wrought by destructive birds 
and noxious caterpillars? Add to these evils, extremes of 
cold and frost, thunderings, lightnings, excessive wet, winds, 
rivers bursting their banks, fissures of the earth, earth- 
quakes, etc. Of none of these is any mention made in the 
state of things under the curse before the Deluge. My firm 
belief is therefore that as the sins of men increased the pun- 
ishments of those sins increased also ; and that all such 
punishments and evils were added to the original curse of 
the earth. 

If however any one should think that Moses embraced all 
these latter evils, in his expression of the divine curse, 
"Cursed is the ground for thy sake," I certainly will not con- 
tend with him. But no one surely can deny that all these 
evils and punishments increased as the sins of men in- 
creased. In the same manner, as in the present day, we ex- 
perience more frequent calamities befalling the fruits of the 
earth than in former times. For the world degenerates and 
grows worse and worse every day. Most plainly therefore 
may we here trace the evidences that all these increased 
calamities were inflicted on Adam as an instruction to him 
in the first age of the world that an increasedly severe dis- 
cipline was necessary. But by degrees this discipline, down 
to the times of Noah, gradually became loosened and men 
began to live more dissolutely and wickedly, until at length 
the earth was rilled with violence, injustice and tyranny. 
And then it was necessary that either heavier or more fre- 
quent punishments should be inflicted ; just as severer dis- 
eases require severer remedies. 

genesis m. 

3 l 7 

When therefore in the time of Noah the whole earth had been 
deluged by the Flood and every living creature except a few 
souls, bad been utterly destroyed, the age which immediately 
succeeded that of Noah lived without doubt in the fear of God. 
But as years rolled on even these men became depraved, being 
corrupted by Satan. So that an example more terrible in its 
nature still was necessary to be made ; as is shown in the awful 
destruction of Sodom and its neighboring cities, Gen. 19 '.24. 
Hence it is that the Scripture says that it was necessary that 
the Amorites should "fill up the measure of their iniquities," 
Gen. 15 -.16. 

So also the whole synagogue of the Jews, when it had fallen 
away into heathenism and open ungodliness, was utterly de- 
stroyed. In like maimer also Rome herself, as long as her 
ancient discipline stood sound and unrelaxed, mightily in- 
creased her power on every side ; but when the storms of vice 
pressed hard upon her it became necessary that her punish- 
ments also should draw upon her more closely. 

About the time when the Gospel began to be known among 
us in Germany the age became somewhat moral and tolerable. 
But now, when the fear of God can scarcely be found, and 
when vices of every description increase daily, false prophets 
rising among us, what else can be expected than that, when 
we have filled up the measure of our iniquities, cither the con- 
summation of all things will overtake us or that Germany will 
suffer the due punishment of her sins ; so universally true is it 
that when sins increase, the punishments of them increase 

According to that wbich I have said concerning the calamities 
which rest upon all the productions of the earth ; so my full be- 
lief also is that even the bodies of men, in the primaeval ages 
of the world, were far more healthful than they are now. This 
is proved by that longevity, so incredible to us, which was 
enjoyed by the men of the primitive ages of the world before 
the Flood. Accordingly we do not find the Lord pronounced 
in the present passage any threats on Adam concerning apo- 



plexy, or leprosy, or the scrofula, or any other of the destruc- 
tive diseases. 

When 1 was a child the small-pox was unknown in Germany. 
It was first known among us when I was about fifteen years 
of age. Now however even infants in the cradle arc attacked 
by it. When this disease first made its appearance it filled 
every one with dread. But now there is so little concern about 
it that friends often say to each other in a pleasant joke, "The 
smallpox take you!" So also, even unto this present age, the 
sweating disease has been a prevalent malady, or as medical 
men term it, an epidemic. For it is .universally seen that as 
each country of the earth has its peculiar blessings, the countries 
are visited ami afflicted with sure and corresponding calamities. 
But the disease to which I have referred made its first general 
appearance in those midland parts of Germany, which were 
the farthest distant from the sea. And what is abhorrent to 
relate, some persons have serpent-like worms in their bowels, 
and worms even in their brain. These last diseases were 
utterly unknown, I think, to the physicians of old, who never- 
theless enumerate nearly four hundred different kinds of dis- 
ease. Now if all these various diseases had existed in the 
first age of the world, how could Adam and his descendants, 
down to the times of Noah, have lived to such extremely old 
ages? Wherefore Moses, as I have said, here makes mention 
only of the barrenness of the earth and of the difficulty of 
man's procuring his bread. 

Indeed if any one wishes to assume the orator and to display 
the copiousness and eloquence of his language, let him in open- 
ing the contents of the passages before us, enumerate all the 
diseases and evils of the human race, which are the conse- 
quences of sin. Were he to commence that task, he would 
find a sea of calamities of every kind so boundless, that filled 
with awe and dread, he would be inclined to beg of God this 
one thing, that he might not be permitted to live even one hour 
in the midst of so many and mighty perils! 

But why do we dwell so long on these diseases only? All 

genesis in. 

3 L 9 

the creatures of God together as one mighty army are against 
us, and all but armed for our destruction. How many are 
there, whom the fire and the water destroy ? How much peril 
threatens men from ferocious and venomous beasts and other 
noxious creatures ? Nor do they infest our bodies only, but our 
food of every kind, intended for our nourishment. Not to 
mention that we ourselves also rush upon each other in hostile 
slaughter and murder. Just as if there were not pestilences 
and destructions enough besides, which threatened us on every 

And if you look at the general pursuits and objects of men, 
what is this life of ours but a daily scene of contention, decep- 
tion, snare, rapine and murder? And all this in addition to 
those evils and calamities which hang over our heads from the 
external things we have mentioned. My belief is that all these 
things did not exist before the Deluge; or, if they did exist, 
were not so numerous or so heavy and severe as they now 
are found to be. But as the sins of men increased, so as we 
have said their punishments have increased also. The calam- 
ities inflicted on Adam therefore were light in comparison to 
those inflicted on us. For the nearer the world approaches 
its end, with the heavier punishments and calamities is it 
visited. To all this evil is added that greater evil still, that 
the more the world is stricken, the more it hardens its forehead 
and becomes stupefied as it were and insensible of its punish- 
ment altogether, as it is written In the Proverbs, "They 
have striken me, shalt thou say, and I was not hurt ; they have 
beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek 
it yet again," Prov. 23 135. This blindness and obduracy ex- 
ceed all the above calamities of the body. 

Is not our state then, I ask, marvelous and miserable? The 
traces of the wrath of God, which our sin has deserved, are 
first of all bound up as it were in our bodies ; and next the same 
wrath of God is beheld resting on the earth and on all creatures, 
and yet all these awful evils are disregarded by us, and 
our minds are filled with security and indolent unconcern. For 



what are the thorns, what the thistles, what the water, what the 
fire, what the caterpillars, what the flies, what the fleas, what 
the bugs, what the lice; what, I say, are all these together and 
separately j but so many messengers which continually preach 
to us of sin and of the wrath of God on its account? For 
before sin entered into the world those Living evils had no 
existence; or if they were in existence, they harmed not nor 

Wherefore to our full knowledge and sight we are in, and 
live in, more than Egyptian darkness. For though all things 
around us remind us of the wrath of God continually, and 
are all but so many pricks in our eyes of admonition, we not 
only do not regard that wrath, but embrace this life and enjoy 
it as our only delight. In the same proportion therefore as sins 
are multiplied, and self-security increases, and men grow 
callous and insensible under their punishments, so those pun- 
ishments themselves are multiplied, not only in this life but in 
that which is to come. I am here speaking of the wicked in 
this world. For if it were possible that men, when in hell, 
could possibly endure their punishments and torments in sen- 
sation only, without the consciousness at the same time that the 
punishments which they endured were just, such ignorance 
would render their torments more easy to be endured. Just 
in the same way as we on earth will not acknowledge our pun- 
ishments, and thus we harden ourselves as it were against 
grief. But in hell that insensibility which now prevents us 
from seeing our real misery will be wholly taken away, and 
all the doors of our senses will be unlocked, so that we shall 
not only feel the pains of our punishment in our body, but 
our mind itself will be filled with a sense of the wrath of God 
and with the confession that we have deserved the whole of 
that wrath by our wickedness. These are the feelings that will 
sharpen, and in an inconceivable degree augment the future 
torments of the wicked. 
V. 18a. "Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee" 
Here we are again reminded that the earth of itself brought 



forth no such thing; but only on account of the sin of Adam, 
as Moses had before expressly said, "For thy sake." Where- 
fore as often as we see thorns and thistles; as often as we 
behold tares and other noxious weeds growing in our fields and 
in our garden, so often are we reminded as by certain signs of 
sin and the wrath of God. Wherefore it is not only in churches 
that we hear ourselves accused of sin ; every garden, every field 
and almost the whole creation is filled with such preachers 
and such monitors of our sin and of the wrath of God, which is 
brought down upon us on account of that sin. 

Wherefore all prayer to the Lord is necessary that he 
would take away from our eyes and from our hearts this 
marvelous insensibility; that being thus perpetually reminded 
of our sin, we may at length put off our self-security and 
walk in the fear of God. For by these various evidences of the 
curse of God, we are continually met, cast down and over- 
whelmed. This Moses will now still more extensivelv set 
before us. He next says : 

V. 18b. And thou shalt eat the herb of the Held. 

This is a new calamity. For above God had given unto 
man the sweetest and most delightful gifts; even that he 
should eat of all the trees of paradise except two only. The 
Lord had also given him dominion over all fishes and over 
all that the whole earth produced, whether of fruits or of 
animals. But now all these blessings arc taken from him, 
on account of the eaten fruit and nothing is left him but the 
herb of the field. And from this passage I believe it can be 
fully proved, that Adam did not feed upon butter, or milk, or 
eggs, or cheese, or flesh, or even on apples or pears, etc., but 
on pot herbs and the seeds of certain herbs and plants only ; 
such as peas, beans, millet, rice, wheat, flour, etc. Where then 
were the splendor and luxury of the banquet at which Adam 
feasted his friends, when he gave a daughter in marriage, or 
when he himself was present at the marriage of any of his 
sons ; seeing that nothing was granted them of God, on which 
to feed but "the herb of the field ?" 



Such then was the frugal fare of the primitive age of the 
world. It consisted of the most common and simple food 
with water. Now however a horrible luxury has overrun the 
whole present generation of men. They are not satisfied with 
collecting together flesh of every kind for the gratification 
of their appetites ; but flesh of every kind is mixed with fish 
of every kind ; spices also of every kind are used in addition. 
Nay, the dissatisfied pervcrseness of nature is indulged to such 
an extent, that those things by nature sweet are rendered by 
various condiments bitter; and those by nature bitter are by 
the same means rendered sweet. 

What varieties prevail in our drink also I Who would not 
consider himself made a laughing-stock, if he should see his 
host set before him water as his drink ? Nor are we content 
with beer, which is brewed at our own homes, nor with wines, 
made on our paternal estates. We even fetch them from be- 
yond the sea. If our first father Adam could return on earth, 
think you not that he would laugh at, or rather wonder at, this 
madness of appetite in his sons? Why, he would avoid as 
poison those very things which we eat and drink with avidity 
and delight; and he would prefer to all these our dainties 
even rapes or turnips in their natural undressed state. 

In this passage frugality of living is commended to us. 
For we are here taught that our first parents, being thus 
righteously deprived of all other kinds of food, had nothing 
left for food but the herb of the field. These facts therefore 
ought to lead us not only to frugality, but also to patience; 
whenever we see others abounding in delicacies and dainties 
of every kind, while we ourselves have nothing but bread, salt 
and water. For our thoughts ought to be these: this is the 
punishment justly inflicted on Adam. When he might have 
enjoyed, by the will, and command, and gift of God, the 
delicious fruits of every kind which grew in paradise; he was 
compelled with all his posterity to live on the common pot 
herbs, because of his disobedience. 

V. 19a. In the sweat of thy face shah thou eat bread. 



With what variety of expression and repetition does Moses 
dwell on this labor and trouble, when he is declaring the man- 
ner in which the husband must labor and toil in feeding his 
family, defending his property and governing his house! And 
all these toils and troubles are far more difficult in our age 
on account of the perverseness of men, than they were "in the 
beginning." For we universally witness, even where the ex- 
pectation of food is certain, with what difficulty a family are 
kept to their duty. Nor was Adam himself without his ex- 
perience of this great evil. For even while he was ruling his 
family with all possible holiness, he witnessed murder com- 
mitted by his son Cain. I say nothing now about all other 
sorrows which a long life compels a man to see and bear in 
his posterity. This anxiety and toil therefore await the hus- 
band. He must endure this labor, which is neither pleasant 
nor successful. Nor ought any one to be found who does not 
endure this sweat. Hence, much more perilous is the life of 
the Papists; all of whom abuse their wealth, obtained by the 
labor of others, to their own gratifications and indolence. 

But here a question has been raised, whether all men ought 
not to be husbandmen, or at least whether they ought not to 
devote themselves to manual labor? Some did indeed thus 
foolishly contend at the beginning of the Gospel among us. 
For they so abused this and other like passages of Scripture, 
which command the labor of the hands, that the youth throw- 
ing aside their literary studies gave themselves up to manual 
employments; and Carlstadt, the leader of these misguided 
ones, leaving his proper station in life, purchased a farm, and 
dug and cultivated his own land. For myself indeed if I could 
with a good conscience forsake my calling as a minister of 
the Word, it would be Ear more easy and pleasant employ- 
ment for me to be employed in cultivating my garden, digging 
with my spade and breaking the clods with my shovel, than 
to endure this hard labor, which I now undergo. For the 
toil of country laborers bears no proportion whatever to this 
our ministerial "sweat." 

3 2 4 


Wherefore their interpretation of this passage, who contend 
that manual labor only is the sweat here spoken of, is to be 
altogether rejected. The declaration of Christ is perfectly 
plain upon this point who commands that those who teach 
in the Word should enjoy the labors of others "And into what- 
soever house ye shall enter, first say, Peace be to this house. 
And in that same house remain, eating and drinking such 
things as they give for the laborer is worthy of his hire," Luke 
10:5, 7. Here the Lord takes bread from the table of those 
who hear tbe Word of God, and gives it to the teachers of the 
Word. In the same way also Faul speaks, when he says, "Even 
so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel 
should live of the Gospel," 1 Cor. 9:14. And it is in confirma- 
tion of this same mind of God, that the apostle cites that word 
of the law, "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox 
that treadcth out the corn," verse 9. And indeed why is the 
commandment concerning the payment of tithes given to the 
husbandmen, who labors and cultivates his farm, if the min- 
isters of the Word are to procure their food by the labor 
of their own hands? 

These and like passages of Scripture show that the "sweat 
of the face" is the common curse on all men. The first "sweat" 
is, that of husbandmen and householders; the second, the 
"sweat" of magistrates ; the third, of teachers in the Church. 
Of all these orders of men the condition of husbandmen is 
the happiest. This the poet of old affirms : 

Felices nimium sua si bona norint, Agricolae. 
Happy their lot ; did they but know their good. 
Who cultivate the earth for all, — Virg. Georg. 2, 458. 
For though they do "sweat" under great labor, yet that labor 
is seasoned with a peculiar pleasure, while the new and mar- 
velous faces of all creatures directly meet their eyes daily. 
Whereas in the political world and in the Church infinite 
troubles and molestations present themselves, in addition to 
the daily perils which are incurred, if a minister of Christ 
perform his duty faithfully. For we speak not now concern- 



ing those indolent mortals, who know not nor acknowledge 
these punishments of sin, but who are devoted only to the 
consideration of the manner in which they can best satisfy their 
lusts. Let such Epicureans be left to the indulgence of their 
own evil appetites and inclinations. We are here speaking 
of those who do perform seriously what they undertake to do, 
whether in the State or in the Church. Such men labor and 
sweat more in one day than a husbandman does in a whole 
month, if the magnitude and the various perils of their works 
be considered. It is for this very reason also that tributes 
and revenues, and other dues of the same description, are paid 
unto kings and princes. And who does not see that this is 
but a small return or reward after all to our rulers for the 
immense labor they undergo, where they really do their duty 
faithfully. And even if there be some who neglect their duty, 
this legitimate ordinance of God is not on their account to 
be disregarded. 

I have somewhere heard it said of the Roman Emperor, 
Maximilian Augustus, that he was so overwhelmed with his 
public duties that he never gave himself sufficient time for 
eating his meals. He was therefore sometimes compelled to 
withdraw from his State labors, and seclude himself in the 
woods to indulge in hunting. Sometimes also he would 
change his raiment and mingle with private society so that he 
might enjoy greater freedom in conversation. And though 
this occupation of hunting was sometimes considered a vice 
in that Emperor, yet those who really knew the extent of 
his labors and the reality of his daily life considered that this 
amusement was adopted by him of necessity and not for pleas- 
ure. What labors of the plow then, what labors of the spade, 
what other toils of a rustic life, will you bring into comparison 
with that "sweat" which the government of such a mighty 
empire as that of Rome demanded? Wherefore the palaces of 
kings and princes do indeed bear their names as such, while 
the kings and princes themselves are the hardest worked of 
all servants. Hence monks and the whole confederacy of the 



Pope are the only beings that really live a royal life, because 
they leave all labors, all business affairs and all the perils of 
them to others, while they themselves enjoy all the comforts 
of life in perfect indolence. 

These same observations apply equally to the pastoral charge 
in the Church which charge is to be considered the heavier 
since the duties are more important which a pastor has to 
perform. For are we to suppose that Augustine lived at ease 
and gave himself up to his pleasures only, surrounded as he 
was by so great a multitude of adversaries, against whom he 
had daily to contend to prevent them from wholly subverting 
as they would have done the doctrine of Christ? For such 
were the Pelagians, the Donatists, the Manicheans and other 
like disturbers of the churches. Likewise I in this day by the 
grace of God so perform my duties as to leave no one, I 
believe, to envy such a laborious life of ease as I daily pass. 
It is the height of folly that fanatics urge on all persons the 
necessity of manual labors, which nevertheless are useful for 
the health of the body. Whereas on the contrary, those great 
labors of the Stale and Church, which we have just described, 
wear out the body and exhaust as it were all the moisture of 
the very bones and their inmost marrow, 

Let us therefore duly and rightly distinguish this "sweat" 
as it ought to be distinguished. The household "sweat" is 
great, the civil or political "sweat" greater still, but the Church 
"sweat" is the greatest of all. Only look at the Apostle Paul 
and you will at once see the greatness of his sweat. For see- 
ing that the Church is in all ages infested with devils and 
harassed by heresies, scandals and great sins, by the un- 
righteous violence of tyrants and by evils of every description ; 
will any man say that there are no labors and no sweats in the 
Church? Will any one affirm that those who rule in the 
Church are not well deserving the provision which they re- 
ceive ? 

We may say this of the Pope and the Cardinals, and of all 
that congregation of the wicked who do no work at all, ovi- 

genesis hi. 


suit only their belly and their ease, spending the greatest 
wealth. These are they of whom we may rightly ^say with 
Paul, "If any one will not work, neither shall he eat," 2 Thess. 
3 :io. Now the work of the Church is to teach the Word, to 
administer the Sacraments, to war with fanatics, to remove 
scandals out of the way, to build up the godly in the faith, etc. 
Of those who really do this Christ says, "The laborer is worthy 
of his hire," Luke 107. 

Now the condition of Adam, the first sinner, was if rightly 
considered worse than ours. For while we all sweat separately, 
each one in his own order and station, Adam was compelled 
to endure at one and the same time the sweat of the household 
rule, the sweat of the political rule and the sweat of the Church 
rule. He alone performed all these duties to his family and 
posterity as long as he lived. He provided for his family and 
ruled it. He trained them in piety and was at the same time 
their father, their king and their priest. And how full of 
pain and peril each one of these duties is, universal experience 


Wherefore we need great consolation to support us against 
all these evils, and we should exercise our minds in much pa- 
tience, seeing that we find these calamities to be laid even on 
the elect also, who possess the hope of a resurrection and of 
eternal life. As therefore this hope is thus left to us afflicted 
men, it becomes us to be of a courageous mind and to over- 
come our evils by means of this hope, because we are not 
destined to live here forever. Just as men, who when traveling 
happen to find a miserable lodging and a covetous host, console 
themselves with the thought that though their food be bad and 
their bed hard, their misery will last for one night only. Such 
ought our thoughts to be in the midst of our calamities on 
account of the sin of the fall. For what are our two or three 
years of life, almost the half of which we pass in insensible 
sleep, when compared with eternity! 

Let afflictions and adversities come therefore as the Lord 
shall be pleased to appoint them to each of us, whether they, 



be the sweat of the home rule, of the state rule, or of the 

Church rule ; we will not suffer ourselves to be moved by them 

to impatience. We will not cast aside our home duty, or our 

state duty, or our Church duty. Such woman-like weakness 

as this beconieth not brave soldiers. It is unworthy them to 

throw away their arms, and to flee at the first onset. And what 

of pleasures and of ease? We are not appointed unto them, 

but unto labor and active life. Hence the poet of old says: 

Tu ne cede mails; scd contra audentior ito. 

Yield not to ills ; but bolder grow, as these 

Are seen t' increase. — Virg. Aen. 6, 96. 

And this shall we be able to do, if we set against these tem- 
poral afflictions the hope of a resurrection and of eternal life. 
As therefore no one would willingly lose this hope, so let all men 
consider that they are bound not to forsake that calling and 
station of life where they have been placed by God. Let him 
who is called to teach the churches, do it with a magnanimous 
spirit, moved neither by his own perils nor by the lazy life of 
popes, who, when they ought to be preaching the Gospel, rul- 
ing the churches, hearing sacred causes and judging contro- 
versies concerning doctrine and helping the churches that have 
need of help, cast off all these highest duties and leave them 
to the useless monks, while they themselves are occupied in 
accumulating monies and making provision for fulfiling their, 
lusts, Rom. 13 :i4. As these therefore escape the sweat, they 
shall not have the cooling refreshment. As they will not 
suffer with Christ, they shall not reign with him, Rom. 8:17. 

On the other hand let all of us who endure this sweat, each 
one in his station, always think that, although we may have 
a bitter burden to bear, these afflictions will have their certain 
end. Hence Moses now adds the following consolation under 
any affliction however hard: 

V. 19b. Till thou return unto the ground; for out of it 
zvast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou 

With respect to wicked men they endure an infinite number 

genesis 111. 329 

of calamities with the hope of enjoying a little morsel of pleas- 
ure. What perils by land and by sea docs the merchant ex- 
perience with the hope of gain? For what a small hire does 
the soldier sell his life. The harlot in the brothel is compelled 
to endure a thousand-fold greater evils than any wife in the 
honest home. Hence the Germans call them by a striking 
proverb, "the devil's martyrs;" because they of their own ac- 
cord cast themselves into the greatest calamities, which they 
might never have experienced, if they had been willing to 
live a godly life. And again, what a host of evils do men, 
given to wine and to gluttony, bring upon themselves by their 
excesses, from all of which they might have lived free had 
they eaten and drunk more moderately. 

Wherefore, well may men be lost in considering what remedy 
can possibly be found for the human race. Since they are 
so hardened by Satan that they not only do not feel their evils, 
but studiously follow after them and pursue them with all 
eagerness. For if they really did feel the evils of their ways 
would they not forsake them? But the fact is that such in- 
sensibility benumbs the minds of men, so that you may see 
them glorying in their very evils themselves. As, therefore, 
such wicked pervcrseness is found in the greatest part of man- 
kind, that for the sake of a light and foolish pleasure they 
will involve themselves in sure calamities, it is wonderful that 
the godly do not consider these things for their good, and 
say within themselves, Although I must live in the midst of 
all these various evils, yet they must all soon end and be re- 
compensed by another and a better life. 

And this is the consolation which this sacred sentence is 
intended to afford. For it gives a promise that all these calam- 
ities shall have an end, and that, too, by the bruising and 
crushing of the "serpent's head," Till, says Moses, thou return 
unto the ground, elhaadama." For this original word signi- 
fies the ground or earth in general. But the Hebrew word 
aphas signifies, properly, recently dug or ploughed earth, or 
a lump of newly turned up earth. Our translation renders 



this original word by "dust ;" that it may signify loosened or 
crumbled earth. For Adam was made a living man out of a 
clod or lump of the earth. When therefore the bonds of this 
clod shall be loosened, it shall return, the Lord says, to its 
former mould or dust. 

And here again we are reminded of the manner in which, 
as the sins of the world increased, their punishments increased 
also. The original usage of committing the bodies of the dead 
to the earth to be dissolved again to dust was certainly a milder 
and human-like custom ; but afterwards it became the practice 
of almost all nations to burn the bodies of their dead. How 
often also does it happen that human beings are devoured 
alive by wild beasts, and have the bellies of those beasts for 
their tombs? Hence we find enumerated among the four 
punishments declared by the prophet, "the teeth of wild 
beasts," Jer. 15:3, and also by Moses himself the poison of 
serpents and other venomous animals, Deut. 32:24. For so it 
is ever that the more insensible we are to the divine punish- 
ment of our sins, the heavier the punishments God lays upon 
us, to break us down and to beat in pieces our obduracy ; as it 
is written in the Book of Leviticus, "And if ye will not yet 
for these things hearken unto me, then I will chastise you seven 
times more for your sins. And I will break the pride of your 
power," Levit. 26:18, 19. 

Thus the fall of Adam was a fall from life into death, and 
from soundness of body into diseases of every kind. Still the 
age of Adam was truly a golden age, if compared with ours. 
But all things degenerated by degrees, and that the great 
image of Daniel also plainly shows, Dan. 2:31, 35. For the 
nearer the world approaches its end the worse men become, 
and this is the reason heavier punishments are inflicted on 
us than on those who have lived before us. What a perti- 
nacious war against the truth is carried on at this day by the 
Papists ! What cruelty do they exercise against those who 
confess the truth ! I mention not now their well nigh Satanic 
covetousness, perfidy and acts of violence without end. Can 
the punishments of such then be very far off? 



Thus far Moses has been recording the punishments in- 
flicted on Adam and his posterity on account of the sin of the 
fall. And though these punishments are great, yet they were 
milder "in the beginning" than they arc now. Because those 
sins which were then of the positive, if I may so speak, are 
now increased to the superlative degree. 

But before we proceed with the remaining contents of this 
chapter, let us pursue a little further our discussion of that 
passage, on which we have briefly dwelt in its place before, 
where it is said to the woman, "I will greatly multipy thy 
sorrow and thy conception or thy impregnation," verse 16, 
above. For the original word there found is iieroneciiad, 
which interpreters generally explain as descriptive of all those 
troubles and straits of mind and body which women endure 
from the time of conception to childbirth. 

A question is here raised by some whether, as the wife is 
impregnated and gives birth to a child only once in a year, that 
one impregnation and parturition is itself a punishment? And 
it is also inquired, why if such be a punishment God here says, 
"I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception?" 
With respect to the latter, I believe the original word to be 
rightly translated, "I will greatly multiply thy cenception," 
that is, thy pains and sorrows consequent upon that conception. 
So that it is a punishment that a woman should conceive only 
once in the year, and yet that one conception in the year should 
be laden with such numberless pains and sorrows. For if 
man had continued in his innocence, no doubt the fruitfulncss 
of women would have been altogether greater. We do now 
find certain instances where often two, sometimes three, and 
occasionally four, children are brought forth at a birth. 

There are universal laws of this fecundity in the brute 
creation. The fruitfulncss of birds and of fishes is very great. 
Dogs, cats and sows produce a great number at a parturition. 
The larger beasts however produce their offspring only once 
in a year generally. My full belief is however that women, 
had there been no sin, would have been productive of a far 



more numerous offspring. Whereas now for the most part the 
most fruitful of them give birth to no more than one child 
in the year, to which diminished fruitfulness there is also 
added that unclean lust of fallen nature. All these things alike 
impress our minds with the magnitude of sin. 

But here again we find brought forward the Jewish cavil 
concerning the serpent. They say if by the seed of the woman 
is to be understood here her natural seed, which is born from 
her womb, as we have interpreted the important passage, it 
would seem to be a natural consequence that the seed of the 
serpent mentioned in this same passage should also be that 
seed which proceeds from the belly of the serpent. Otherwise, 
they say that opposition which Moses sets forth cannot consist 
when he says, "I will put enmity between thy seed and her 
seed," verse 15. 

Out of this cavil many consequences will follow. In the 
first place it will follow that God is here speaking with the 
natural serpent only and determining his punishment ; and in 
the next place it will inevitably follow that Christ has nothing 
at all to do with this passage, nor this passage with him ; and 
it will equally follow that this text furnishes no proof what- 
ever concerning Christ ! Wherefore this cavilling objection of 
the Jews has the appearance of containing something in it; 
but in fact it contains nothing at all. 

First, then, my reply to this cavil is "He that is ignorant, 
let him be ignorant still ; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy 
still," Rev. 22:11. For he that will not believe the openly 
revealed and manifest Gospel is worthy of being left in ig- 
norance of these more hidden passages of the Scripture and 
in disbelief of them altogether. Neither is our present object 
to confirm or illustrate the Gospel by the passage now in ques- 
tion, but to hold up the brighter light of the Gospel before it in 
order to illuminate its obscurities. And if any will not believe 
the shining light of the Gospel, what marvel is it if they are left 
to disbelieve these more obscure words of the prophets and 
to produce their new and absurd opinions in opposition to 



them? The promise of the Gospel is revealed from heaven; 
and moreover it is preserved in safety amidst the greatest 
tyrants and the most horrible punishments of our sins from 
God. If the Jews pertinaciously fight against this promise and 
will not believe it, they must be left alone. We meanwhile 
will deal with those who believe, and who submit to the Gospel. 
Christ says, John 8:44, that Satan is the "father of lies, and 
a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth." 
This is that light of the Gospel by which the dark places of 
the Old Testament are illumined. Now if Satan was "a mur- 
derer from the beginning" tell me, whom or what persons did 
he murder? Were they not Adam and Eve, whom he mur- 
dered by sin? Where did he murder them? Was it not in 
paradise? When did he murder them? Was it not when he 
made nothing of the commandment of God and promised 
Adam and Eve that they would be like gods if they would eat 
of the forbidden tree? Both propositions therefore are true. 
The natural serpent was in paradise ; and by the natural ser- 
pent, the old serpent, the devil, deceived man and murdered 

The principal meaning of this passage therefore is to cause 
us to understand that the devil was the author of all this 
calamity; just as when any one commits murder, it may rightly 
be said of the sword of the murdered, "This sword killed the 
man." Whereas in truth, it was not the sword alone nor of 
itself that killed the man, but the murderer who used the 
sword. Indeed it is quite a common use of the figure synec- 
doche, the conveyance of two ideas by one expression, to un- 
derstand the author of the act under the mention of the in- 
strument made use of. Wherefore we explode this Jewish cavil 

Secondly, it is also true that contraries are not necessarily 
consistent contrarieties in every respect. For the form of con- 
trarieties is multiplex, as logicians teach. Some things are 
opposed to others relatively, others privativcly, and others by 
contradiction. Thus the natural father by whom we are be- 



gotten and the father of lies are opposed to each other. Al- 
though we should grant the Jews their interpretation of this 
passage that Moses is here speaking of the natural serpent, yet 
the text itself evidently contains a synecdoche when we com- 
pare it with the words of Christ. The words of Moses are, 
"And Jehovah Cod said unto the serpent, Because thou hast 
done this, thou art cursed above all cattle." What then did the 
serpent do? lie deceived Eve and thus murdered her. 

So the words of Moses therefore only hold up the light of 
the Gospel, "The devil was a murderer from the beginning," 
John 8 144. Is it not by this light at once manifest that God 
so speaks with the natural serpent as recorded by Moses, that 
his words are intended to apply to the devil, concealed under 
the form of the natural serpent, who having assumed that form 
under it hurled man into sin and death, and laid him under 
the wrath of God? Wherefore by the seed of the serpent in 
this passage is not to be understood the natural seed of the 
natural serpent, but the seed of the devil ; as Christ also repre- 
sents the same in the Gospel, using the same appellation of 
"seed," where he says, "An enemy came and sowed among 
the wheat evil seed," Math. 13 125. This evil seed is contrary 
to the spiritual seed, even as flesh and spirit are wholly con- 
trary to each other. 

But it is not necessary as we have said, that contraries snould 
contain that contrariety to each other throughout in all re- 
spects ; just in the same manner as similarities do not respond 
to each other in every particular. Thus for instance, Adam 
is a figure of Christ; which similarity consists in the great 
truth that as sin hath abounded towards all men by Adam, so 
the righteousness of Christ also abounds towards all those who 
believe in him. These particulars of Adam and of Christ 
agree with each other. In all other respects Adam and Christ 
do not agree. Wherefore let this their erroT be left to the 
Jews, to content themselves with it. We believers in Christ 
know that the serpent, to whom God speaks in this text, is the 
devil. And this we know from the interpretation of Christ 



I. V. 20. And the man called his •wife's name Eve; be- 
cause she is the mother of all living. 

We have heard above that it was inflicted as a punishment 
upon the woman, that she should be under the power of the 
man. That power to which she is thus made subject is here 
described anew. It is not God who here gives to Eve her 
name, but Adam, her lord; just in the same manner as before 
he gave to all the animals their names, as creatures put under 
his dominion. No animal devised its name for itself. Every 
one received its appellation, and the dignity and glory of its 
name, from its lord, Adam. So to this day, when a woman 
marries a man, she loses the name of her own family and is 
called after the name of her husband. On the other hand it 
would be a thing quite monstrous, if the husband should wish 
to be called by the name of his wife. This therefore is a sign 
and further confirmation of that punishment of subjection 
which the woman procured by her sin. In the same manner 
also, if the husband changes his place of residence the woman 
is compelled to follow him as her lord. So various are the 
traces in nature which put us in mind of original sin and of 
our numerous calamities on its account. 

And the name which Adam gave to his wife is a name full 
of joy and delight. For what is better, or more precious, or 
more delightful, than life ? There is a well-known poetic line — 
Num hi bona cuncta 
Ut redimas vitam recuses? 
To save thy life, what wouldst thou not resign ? 
The world, with all its wealth, if they were thine 1 
For neither gold, nor gems nor the glory of the whole 
world can be compared with the preciousness of life. This 
Christ intimates, Math. 6:25; 16:26. Hence the Jews general- 
ly give their children names taken from roses, flowers, jewels, 
etc. The name of Eve however was not taken from the 



preciousness of anything worldly, but from life itself, which 
in value exceeds all things. But Adam adds also his reason 
for giving this name to his wife. "Because she is the mother 
of all living." It is evident therefore from this passage that 
Adam, by receiving the Holy Spirit, was wonderfully en- 
lightened; and that he believed and understood the word 
spoken by God concerning the Seed of the woman, which 
should bruise the head of the serpent; and that he therefore 
wished to signalize his faith, and to adorn it by the name 
which he gave his wife, the name the like of which he had 
not given to any other creature. It is equally evident also 
that he moreover wished, by this name given to his wife, to 
cherish his own hope of a future Seed, to confirm his own 
faith and to comfort himself by the belief of a future and 
eternal life, even at the very time when all nature had been 
rendered subject to death. 

For if Adam had not apprehended all this by the faith of the 
life to come, his mind could not have been raised to such an 
assurance of it, as to give his wife a name so full of joy. As 
therefore he did give such a name to his wife, it is perfectly 
evident that his mind was lifted up by the Holy Ghost to this 
confidence in the remission of sins by the Seed of Eve, whom 
he therefore named Eve, in order that the name might be a 
memorial of that divine promise by which he himself was raised 
anew unto life and by which he left the hope of an eternal life 
to his posterity. This hope and this faith he imprinted as it 
were on the forehead of his wife in the brightest colors by the 
name Eve which lie gave her; just in the same manner as 
those who are delivered from their enemies erect trophies 
and other glad memorials to commemorate the victory which 
they have gained. 

But perhaps you will inquire, how Adam called Eve the 
mother of all living, when she was as yet a virgin and had 
never borne a child. Adam, we here again see, did this to 
testify his faith in the divine promise; because he believed 
that the human race would not be cast away nor destroyed, 



but would be saved. This same name Eve therefore embraces 
also a prophecy of the grace that should come ; and it indicates 
that consolation, which is necessary under the perpetual trials 
of this human life and against all the temptations of Satan. 
It is very possible also that the joyful giving of this name to 
Eve, which as we have said is a most beautiful proof of the 
faith of Adam and of the recreation of his spirit unto a new 
life, formed a reason why the holy fathers in after ages held 
that day, on which their children were circumcised and re- 
ceived their names as a more glad and joyful festival than the 
day they were born; to the intent that such festival might 
forever commemorate this giving of the first name by Adam, 
when he called his wife Eve. But now follows another kind of 
memorial quite the contrary to this; a memorial of sorrow, 
not of joy. 

V. 21. And Jehovah God made for Adam and for his wife 
coats of skins, and clothed them. 

This is by no means so joyful and delightful information 
as was that of Adam giving to his wife the name of Eve. 
For, although the Lord had said, "In the day that thou eatest 
thereof thou shalt surely die;" yet Adam consoled himself by 
this name which he gave to his wife that the life which he had 
lost should be restored by the promised Seed of the woman, 
which should bruise the serpent's head and destroy the de- 

II. Here Adam and Eve are clothed with garments by 
the Lord God himself, in order that, being perpetually re- 
minded by this clothing as a lasting memorial, they might 
reflect, as often as they looked at their garments, upon their 
awful and miserable fall from the highest felicity into the ex- 
tremist calamity and. wretchedness; to the intent that they 
might ever afterwards fear to sin and exercise continual re- 
pentance; yet looking for the remission of sins by the prom- 
ised Seed. And this is the reason no doubt the Lord God did 
not cover them with leaves nor with that wool which grows 
on trees, but clothed them with the skins of slaughtered ani- 



mais to remind them that they were now mortal and subject 
to certain death. 

As therefore the name Eve contained in it the joyful hope of 
life, even of eternal life; so these skins were a memorial of 
sin passed and sin to come; but a memorial also of all those 
calamities present and future, which that sin deserved. And 
indeed our nature has need of such memorials and perpetual 
admonitions. For we easily forget both past evils and past 
blessings. Hence it is that Peter says, "For he that lacketh 
these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten 
the cleansing from his old sins. Wherefore I shall be ready 
always to put you in remembrance of these things, though ye 
know them, and arc established in the truth which is with you," 
2 Pet. i :o, 12. For it is truly an awful expression of the 
apostle when he here intimates that some forget the remission 
of their sins, and after they have well believed draw back from 
their faith, and adorn not themselves with the most beautiful 
chain of Christian virtues which he enumerates, but indulge in 
covetousness, pride, envy, lust, etc. We in our day also have 
great need of this admonition, who experience all these bur- 
dais of these calamities under the papacy, lest we become 
ungrateful to our merciful God, as, alas! the greater part of 
the world do. 

As a remedy therefore against this forgetfulness these skins 
were added as clothings for Adam and Eve, that they might be 
forever a sure sign, or memorial or admonition, whereby both 
they and all their posterity might be reminded of their most 
wretched condition. But in after ages, marvelous to say, the 
world begati to grow mad in the matter of this very memorial 
of their calamity ! For who can possibly describe the amount 
of study and expense men and women give to dress ! Indeed 
it is so great that it can no longer be properly termed pleasure 
nor luxury, but madness ; because, like asses created for bear- 
ing burdens of gold they seem rather to consider with how 
much gold they can load themselves, than with how much they 
can best adorn themselves. A superior kind of dress may be 



justly commended in certain cases; especially in more illus- 
trious persons. But that rage for dress in all classes, which 
now prevails, cannot but offend the eyes of all good men. And 
if Adam himself could rise from his grave and behold this 
madness for raiment in all circles of society, I believe he would 
stand petrified with astonishment at the sight. For the cloth- 
ing of skins, which Adam daily wore, daily reminded him of 
his sin and his lost felicity. Whereas we, on the contrary, 
clothe ourselves with splendid garments and indulge in luxury 
of dress, that we may testify to all men that we have not only 
forgotten the evils of the fall, from which we have been saved 
by the Seed of the woman, but the blessings also which we 
have received through him. We next find that the admonition 
which the Lord had given by the sign of the garments, he gave 
also in word. 

V. 22. And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as 
one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth 
his liand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live 

These words contain sarcasm and most bitter derision. 
Some inquire therefore why it is that God here deals so harshly 
with miserable Adam? How it is that, after he had been rob- 
bed of all his glory and had fallen into sin and death, he is 
goaded in addition to all this by his Maker with this most bit- 
ter reflection passed upon him. Was it not enough, they ask, 
that he should wear this visible sign which should perpetually 
remind him of his lost glory and his present calamity, but he 
must hear also in addition this audible word of the Lord God? 

To this I reply, Adam had the promise of mercy given him, 
and with that he ought to have lived content. But in order 
that he might more deeply fear, and more care full)' guard 
against all future sin, there is spoken to him this bitter memo- 
rial word also. For God foresaw what kind of men Adam's 
posterity would be; and therefore he puts this word into his 
mouth that he might preach it to his posterity, and might 
teach them as a warning that by wishing to become like God, 



he became like unto the devil ; in order that they also, being 
thus warned, might not add to that sin of their first parents 
their own sins, and so depart still farther from God. 

As before, by the clothing of skins, so now, by his word 
itself, God reminds our first parents both concerning their 
past and their future calamities. Not that God is delighted 
with Adam's sad case, for had it been so he would have given 
him no such admonition at all ; but would have remained silent. 
But God willed that man should sigh after the restoration of 
that "image of God" which he had lost; and should therefore 
the more hate sin, which had been the cause of this awful 
calamity ; and that Adam should admonish his posterity of what 
had been the consequence of his sin ; that when, having been 
plundered of his reason by Satan, he thought he should become 
like God, he became like Satan himself. 

On this passage also that great question is raised, why God, 
who is one, here speaks in the plural number? And whether 
there are more gods than one? And Nicholas of Lyra, with 
others, considers that these words are either spoken in the 
person of an angel or addressed to angels, "Is become as one 
of us ;" that is, ''Is become an angel." But this comment is too 
cold. For God does not here call himself an angel. Nor does 
the force of the expression lie in the word "one;" but rather 
in the pronoun "us." Wherefore we repudiate altogether this 
cold comment. For if these words are spoken in the person 
of an angel, it is certain that God did not speak them ; but God 
did speak them. For the assertion of the text is, "And Jehovah 
God said." 

Wherefore here again let us have recourse to the light 
of the Gospel. For this light as I have above observed 
illumines all these obscure passages o.' the Old Testament. 
And indeed if you will explain these words as having refer- 
ence to the angels, such interpretations will not accord with that 
portion of the sacred narrative which precedes. For Satan 
above said, verse 5, "And ye shall be as gods, knowing good 
and evil." From this it is manifest that Adam and Eve really 



endeavored to become like God, not like an angel. Wherefore 
tins passage cannot rightly be understood in any other way 
than as meaning equality with God 1 

This error of the Jews therefore concerning the reference 
of the present passage to angels, which Lyra also follows in 
his interpretation, is exploded ; and from this text, according 
to the letter, the doctrine is established that there is a plurality 
in the Godhead, which doctrine was also determined above, 
Gen. 1 :26, where God said, "Let us make man in our image." 
All these passages argue, in the first place, for the unity of the 
divine essence. For the uniform expression in them all is, 
"And God said." And in the next place, they argue also for 
the plurality, or according to the general term used, a Trinity 
of persons in the Godhead. All these mysteries however are 
more fully revealed in the New Testament. As for instance, 
when Christ commands believers to be baptized in the name of 
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The Three 
Divine Persons in the Godhead therefore were thus at once 
shadowed forth at the very beginning of the world, and were 
afterwards clearly understood by the prophets, and at length 
fully revealed in the Gospel. 

The meaning of this passage therefore stands perfectly plain, 
that the intent of Adam and Eve was to become like God or to 
secure his image. Now the image of the invisible God is the 
Son, "by whom all things consist," Col. 1:17. Wherefore 
Adam by his sin dashed against the very person of Christ, 
who is the true image of God. These great things are but 
briefly and obscurely set before us in this divine narrative. 
There is no doubt however that Adam himself drew from them 
numberless sermons for his family and posterity; in the same 
way as the prophets after him evidently contain various allu- 
sions to these mysteries and wrap them up in marvelous indica- 
tions, which the Gospel finally reveals in open and bright man- 

It makes also for our interpretation of the present passage 
that the name of God used is Jehovah, which cannot signify 



any creature, being- a name which is applied absolutely and 
only to the Creator himself. And what does the Creator here 
say? "Adam is become as one of us." Now here most as- 
suredly neither our profession nor our faith will tolerate re- 
ceiving these words as being- spoken or as having reference to 
angels. For who will dare to say that God is one of the an- 
gels, or that an angel is one of the US, the elobim? The glo- 
rious God is above all angels and over all creatures! How 
therefore can God make himself only equal to the angels I 

We receive this passage therefore as a sure testimony of that 
article of our faith concerning the holy Trinity; that there 
is One God, and Three Divine Persons in the Godhead. Moses 
indeed seems here obscurely, but plainly and purposely, to in- 
timate concerning the sin of Adam that his aim was to become 
like, not unto angels, but unto God. For if he had sinned 
against angels only, he would not have been condemned to 
death for such a sin. But because his sin was directly against 
the majesty of the Creator, by aiming to become like unto 
him and to do as that divine majesty did, therefore it was 
that so awful a punishment followed so awful a sin. 

And as when a man is delivered from crucifixion every one 
will naturally remind him of the danger in which he was 
placed and will exhort him to guard against a like danger ever 
afterward; so, after Adam is restored to the hope of life 
through the divine promise, God admonishes him by the bitter 
irony contained in the text, not to forget his horrible fall nor 
ever again to attempt to equal God, in which he so awfully 
failed ; but to humble himself before the divine Majesty and 
ever afterwards to guard with all his posterity against such 
a sin. For these things were not spoken to Adam only ; they 
apply to us also, who, after being baptized and renewed by 
grace, ought to take heed with all watchfulness that we fall 
not back into our former ungodliness. 

In like manner there is equally bitter sarcasm in the words, 
when God says, "And now, lest he put forth his hand, and 
take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever." As if God 



could not by one mere nod prohibit Adam from touching the 
tree and also prevent him ever doing so! Moses next adds 
those terrible and terrifying words, 

Vs. 23, 24. Therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the 
garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the gar- 
den of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a szvord which 
turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. 

The contents of this text are intended also for our rebuke 
and admonition; as Paul says, Rom. 15:4, "For whatsoever 
things were written aforetime were written for our sakes also. 
For there is great peril, lest forgetting our former sins we 
should be plunged into them again; as Christ also gives us 
warning, when he says, "Behold, thou art made whole; sin 
no more, lest a worse thing befall thee," John 5 :i4- Peter also 
speaks in the spirit of warning, when he says, "It has happened 
unto them according to the true proverb, The dog turning to 
his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wal- 
lowing in the mire," 2 Pet. 2 :22. The same admonition and 
warning are given by the same apostle elsewhere, when he says, 
"Having forgotten the cleansing from his old sius," 2 Pet. 

1 : 9- 
These and other passages of Scripture are all admonitions 

concerning guarding against future sin ; because, as in diseases 
so in sins, the relapse is more difficult of cure than the original. 
Hence therefore Adam and his whole posterity are warned in 
so many various forms by the present portion of the sacred 
record of Moses! All is written in order that, after they have 
received the hope of eternal life by means of the promise given 
through the Seed of the woman, they might beware that they 
lose not that hope by sinning again ; according to that remark- 
able parable of the house which was swept and garnished after 
Satan was cast out, which Satan again occupied, taking with 
him seven other spirits more wicked than himself. 

It is to this end that the Lord uses so much bitterness in 
his address to our first parents. It is as if, in explaining him- 



self, he should say, "I before forbade Adam and Eve to touch 
the tree of death ;" but such was their impudent self-will, that 
they would not abstain from doing so even to their own de- 
struction. Now, therefore, I must take all care that they ap- 
proach not the "tree of life" also; for it may be they will not 
refrain from putting forth their hand on that also. Therefore 
I will so effectually prevent them from eating of this tree, that 
I will prohibit them from the use of any of the trees of para- 
dise whatsoever. Wherefore I say unto them, "Go ye forth 
from the garden altogether, and eat the herb of the field, and 
whatsoever else of the kind the earth produceth. Ye shall 
hereafter not only eat no more of the tree of life, but ye shall 
not taste any other tree of paradise," etc. 

This passage further shows that the trees of paradise were 
in no manner like those which the other part of the earth 
brought forth. Wherefore, even the food which Adam and 
Eve ate, after their ejection from paradise, reminded them, 
and still reminds their posterity, of their sin and of their most 
miserable condition, into which they have been hurled by their 
sin. In so many and various ways are our calamities depicted 
before our very eyes that even our clothing, independently of 
our destitution by nature of those spiritual gifts, the knowledge 
and worship of God, etc., perpetually remind us of those great 

Here a question presents itself, whether, if God had permit- 
ted Adam to cat of the tree of life, Adam would by tins food 
have overcome death in the same manner as by eating of the 
tree of death, he became subject to death; for the reasoning 
in each case seems to be parallel. The tree of death killed; 
and that by the Word, which said, "In the day that thou eatest 
thereof, thou shalt surely die." The tree of life, therefore, by 
the power also of the same Word, gave life and preserved from 

Lyra and others in their reply to this question say that this 
tree of life had indeed the power of preserving life for a 
length of time, but not forever; and therefore it could not 



have restored that life which was lost by sin. For Adam was 
not created with the design of his remaining in this corporal 
life forever; but he was designed to be translated from this 
corporal life and from this corporal nourishing of it into that 
spiritual life, for which he was ultimately designed and into 
which he would have been translated, if he had not sinned. 
Just in the same way as when a man is created a consul from 
his former private life, no death is taken into consideration in 
his being created to that office, but his glory and dignity alone 
are increased; so Adam, had not death intervened by his sin, 
would have changed his mortality for an immortality without 
any death at all ; being translated from the life corporal to the 
life spiritual and eternal. This "tree of life" however, accord- 
ing to the view of Lyra, served only for the preservation of the 
corporal life. And therefore he interprets the present text, 
"Lest he should live an age;" that is, a life of long duration. 
Such is Lyra's opinion. 

My understanding of the text however is different. My 
belief is, that if Adam had been admitted to eat of the tree of 
life he would have been restored to that life which he lost ; so 
that he would not have afterwards died, but would have been 
simply translated from the life corporal to the life spiritual and 
eternal ; for the text contains both these statements most clear- 
ly ; that Adam was prohibited from eating of "the tree of life," 
that he might not be restored to the life which he had lost; 
and also, that if he had eaten of that tree he would have lived 
leolam ; that is, for an age or a length of time. 

My rejection of the opinion of Lyra, however, is especially 
on the ground that he attributes the power of giving life to 
the nature of the tree itself simply; whereas it is quite certain 
that the tree possessed not this property of its own nature, but 
from the power of the Word absolutely. Just in the same 
manner as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had its 
peculiar property from the same Word. It did not kill, because 
its fruits themselves were deadly, poisonous or pestiferous ; but 
because the Word, as a certain paper, was added to it ; on 



which paper God had written, "In the day that thou eatest of 
this tree, thou shalt surely die," Gen. 2:17. 

Wherefore, in the first place, to this tree of death there was 
attached spiritual death or the death of the soul ; that is, diso- 
bedience. For after Adam and Eve had violated this com- 
mandment of God by sin, which commandment had continued 
effectual in them up to that time, they began to think thus, 
"Behold, God has forbidden us to eat of this tree ; but what 
is that to us?" This contempt of the commandment was that 
poisoned hook, by which being firmly fixed in their throats 
Adam and Eve were utterly destroyed. For since the divine 
threatening was added to the commandment, therefore after 
eating it the fruit wrought in them death on account of their 
disobedience. The tree of death itself was not poisoned; but, 
as I have copiously explained before under the second chapter, 
it was the tree of divine worship, where man might testify, by 
his obedience in that worship, that he acknowledged, rever- 
enced and feared his God. For God saw everything which he 
had made, and behold it was very good, Gen. 1:31, Where- 
fore, I have no doubt that this tree of life in the present pas- 
sage derived its efficacy, as did the tree of death, from the 
Word. Therefore, since the Word rested in its power on that 
tree, if Adam had eaten of it, he would have been restored to 
the life which he possessed before his fall. 

It was just thus also with the serpent, which Moses raised in 
the desert. It did not give or cause life by its own nature ; for 
it was made of brass, as any other serpent might be made of 
the same metal to this day. But it was the Word, added to 
that serpent, which made it effectual to give life ; because God 
commanded that serpent to be lifted up, and because he added 
this Word to it when lifted up, "Every one that is bitten, when 
he looketh upon it, shall live," Num. 21 :8. Now, if thou 
shouldst make a serpent of brass at his day, thou couldst not 
have this Word to add to it. Moreover, the cause of the heal- 
ing did not lie in the act of the looking, but that cause was con- 
tained in the Word, by which God had commanded that those 



who were bitten should look to the serpent, to which com- 
mandment was also added the promise of healing to those who 
should look. But because the Rabbins understand not the na- 
ture of the Word, therefore they shamefully err and fail in 
their interpretation and declare the meaning to be, that the 
nature itself of these trees was death-giving or life-giving. 
For they understand not that all things therefore take place, 
because God by his Word either promises or threatens that 
they shall so take place. 

Our sophistic human rcasoners trifle in the same way, when 
they argue upon the manner in which baptism justifies. For 
Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventura consider that there is a 
certain power of effecting justification infused by God into the 
water when the infant is baptized ; so that the water of the 
baptism, by its own virtue thus communicated, creates justifi- 
cation. We, on the contrary, affirm that the water of baptism 
is water, nothing else or better than that water which the cow 
drinks. But we affirm, that to this water, natural and simple 
in itself, is added the Word, "He that believeth, and is bap- 
tized, shall be saved," Mark 16 :i6. And again, "Except a man 
be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the 
kingdom of God," John 3 :S- Now, if any one is inclined to 
call this Word, or this Promise, the power communicated to 
the water of baptism, I will not resist such a view of the sacred 
matter. But the mind of our sophists is quite different from 
this; for they will not assign this power to the Word; they 
argue concerning the element only ; and they affirm that the 
water itself contains a peculiar power communicated to it of 
God. Scotus has expressed the matter more correctly in his 
definition of it, when he says that baptism is "a divine compact 
or covenant, resting on the clement." 

The Word therefore is in every case to be regarded and 
honored, that Word by which God holds and endues his crea- 
tures with efficacy ; and a difference is ever to be made between 
the creature and the Word. In the Sacrament of the Lord's 
Supper there arc bread and wine; in baptism there is water. 



These are the mere creatures. But they arc held in God's hand 
by the Word, and as long as the creature is thus apprehended 
by the Word, so long also doth it effect that which the Word 

And yet we would by no means be understood as favoring 
by these views the Sacramentarians, when we thus join togeth- 
er baptism and the Supper of the Lord. Baptism hath annexed 
to it the promise, that with the Holy Spirit it regenerates. In 
the Supper of the Lord, in addition to the promise of the re- 
mission of sins annexed to it, it has also this excellency: that 
with the bread and the wine there is also truly set forth the 
body and blood of Christ, as Christ himself says, "This is my 
body which is given for you r" and also, "This cup is the New 
Testament in my blood," Luke 22. :ro, 20. In the same manner 
it might also be said that the human nature itself in Christ does 
not redeem us. But because the human nature was corporally 
held fast by the divine nature, and Christ is both God and man 
in one person, therefore his redemption is all-availing; and 
therefore Christ is called the "Son of Man" and the Saviour. 

The Pope has invented the "blessed water," "extreme unc- 
tion" and numberless other like things, to which he has attrib- 
uted the remission of sins. In all these cases ever think thus 
with thyself: Has God ever added to these things his Word 
of Command and his Word of Promise? And if the promise 
and the precept of God are not attached to them, immediately 
judge that they are idolatry and profaning of the name of God. 
But they will tell you that the prayers of the pious are added 
to them and that there exist holy examples, in imitation of 
which these things were constituted. But do thou regard 
neither the pious prayers, nor the holy examples, nor the inten- 
tions of those who invented or established these things. Look 
only at whether the precept and promise of God are attached 
to them ; for the divine command and promise alone can endue 
creatures with a new power beyond that power which they 
of their own mere nature possess. 

Thus "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" was of its 



own nature good as a creature; but by means of the Word 
of God, added and attached to it, it became to man through his 
sin the poison not of his body only but of his soul. And in like 
manner, on the contrary, "the tree of life" had by means of the 
Word of God attached to it the power of preserving life, and it 
would have restored and preserved the life of Adam had God so 
permitted. But God being angry with Adam did not permit 
him to return to eat of that tree after his fall. And this repul- 
sion from "the tree of life" and from paradise was not only in- 
tended to keep Adam under the continual memory of the sin 
which he had committed, but also because Adam had now a 
better promise given him, that the Seed of the woman should 
bruise the seed of the serpent; so that, although Adam was 
subjected to corporeal death, he yet retained the hope of an 
immortality through the Son of God. Just as an angry father, 
though he does not deprive his son of the right of his inherit- 
ance, yet chastises him and turns him out of doors. 

It is thus the will of the Lord God therefore that man should 
be content with the hope of a better life than that in which 
Adam was first created. For even though Adam had eaten of 
the tree of life and had been restored thereby to his former 
life, he would not even then have been safe from Satan nor 
from the danger of falling again from that life by his tempta- 
tion. God therefore hath prepared for man that state of hope in 
which we may live assured that through the blessed Seed of the 
woman we never can die an eternal death, although this cor- 
poreal life thus appointed for us may be filled with various 
afflictions. The words of the passage are the words of God, 
spoken ironically and in anger to Adam now justified, warning 
him to be more cautious of sin in the future and not to forget 
his past sins and calamities. 

Moses moreover beautifully inverts the order of his words to 
the intent that he might more effectually admonish man of 
the things he had related before, where he said, "Jehovah 
God placed man in the garden of Eden that he might till it and 
guard it," Gen. 2:15. Here on the contrary, he says, "The Lord 



God sent man forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground 
from which he was taken." For God by Moses would have 
man to reflect that he was formed of the ground and was sta- 
tioned in a most delightful place; but that by means of his sin 
he was cast out of that most delightful place and carried back to 
the ground from which he was first created. By this striking 
inversion of the facts of his record, Moses indicates the manner 
in which God not only warned Adam and all his posterity 
against all future sin, but reminded them also of their great 
sins past. Now therefore Adam, whose appointed station be- 
fore was in paradise, a place separate from all the beasts of the 
earth and in which peculiar food was prepared for him, is cast 
out into a place in common with the beasts and also has his 
general food in common with them. 

Nor is Adam cast out of paradise only, but a guard also is set 
at the entrance of the place that he might not by any means 
be able to enter it again. Just as watches are set to guard 
citadels and armies. Moses therefore by the copiousness and 
variety of speech he here uses would show, that this ex- 
pulsion of Adam from paradise was in the highest degree neces- 
sary unto our salvation; that, being warned thereby against 
sin, we might live in the fear of God, ever watching against 
temptations from Satan, who worked so much evil to our 
nature by the sin of our first parents. 

Concerning the original word, mikkedem, we have spoken 
above and have shown that it signifies "from the east" or "in 
the eastern quarter." The meaning of Moses is, that paradise 
had a way or gate on the eastern side, by which there was an 
entrance into this garden. Thus also, in the building of the 
temple described by Ezekiel, mention is made of a gate of the 
sanctuary, which looked toward the east, so that we may con- 
clude that this temple was a certain form of paradise ; for para- 
dise, had nature remained innocent, would have been as it were 
the temple of the whole world. At this entrance therefore to- 
ward the east, which alone led to paradise, Cherubim were 
placed or angels which might guard this way, that neither 



Adam nor any of his posterity might ever enter paradise again. 
The Lord did these things after the manner of men as a terror, 
in order that there might thus exist a lasting memorial of so 
awful a fall. 

Moreover these Cherubim had not iron wherewith to drive 
back those who should approach, but lahat, that is, "the blaze," 
or "the flame" of a turning or brandished sword; a flame like 
the flash of lightning which is uncertain in its motion and daz- 
zles the eyes. This flame or flash of fire has the form of a 
sword, continually waved or brandished. Just, for instance, as 
we have it represented that cloven tongues like as of fire ap- 
peared resting upon each of the apostles on the day of Pentecost, 
Acts 2 :3. The same appearance do flying dragons also exhibit. 
In this manner it was also that the angels here spoken of un- 
ceasingly emitted flames, which flashed in all directions so that 
no one might by any possibility approach. 

The absurdities of Origen on this passage we utterly reject, 
nor are we at all more pleased with the triflings of Lyra, who 
will have it, that by the "flaming sword" we are to understand 
the sinner, who for a sin unto death has ceased to be meritor- 
iously, though not numerically one of the church militant. And 
he says, that the "flaming sword" being represented as "turn- 
ing every way" signifies that if true repentance follow such sins 
a man is deservedly recalled into the church. For ourselves 
however, as we have all along maintained that paradise was a 
real and visible garden in a certain spot of the earth, so we ex- 
plain the present text in a simple and historical sense ; that this 
"sword" was a real and visible "flame" or "a flash of fire" in the 
form of a sword, by the turnings or brandishings of whicli 
every way the Cherubim or angels terrified and drove away 
Adam and his posterity, so that they dared not approach this 

And paradise was kept closed by this guard of angels until 
the Deluge, to the end that there might exist a sure memorial 
of this miserable and calamitous fall of Adam to all his 
posterity; in the same manner as in after ages the Lake of 



Sodom and the pillar of salt remained as memorials through- 
out the posterity of those generations. And indeed our insen- 
sibility and unconcern need such monuments of the wrath of 
God. After the Deluge however paradise, together with its 
angels and these brandishings of their sword, disappeared. For 
each rising generation had its monuments of the divine wrath, 
which were nearer to them and the better calculated to alarm 
the self-secure, although even this avails nothing with the 

III. Thus have we in our Commentary on these first three 
chapters of the book of Genesis gone through the history 
of the whole creation. In what manner the heaven and the 
earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them, were creat- 
ed; in what manner paradise was created of God, that it 
might be the palace of man, the lord of the whole world, who 
had dominion over all things therein; in what manner God 
instituted a temple for man in paradise, which was appointed 
for acts of divine worship ; namely, the "tree of the knowledge 
of good and evil," by his conduct concerning which Adam 
might testify his obedience to his God. We have also heard in 
these three chapters the history of those things which were done 
by man in paradise; how woefully he fell and sinned against 
God and lost all this glory of his innocence and natural im- 

All these subjects I have treated with plainness and simplic- 
ity, according to the measure of my gift; giving them their 
plain historical sense, which is the true and genuine meaning. 
For the principal thing we have to do in interpreting the holy 
Scriptures is to gather from them, to some degree of certainty, 
their plain and simple sense ; especially, surrounded as we are 
with such a variety of interpreters, Latin, Greek and He- 
brew. For nearly all these not only pay no regard to the plain 
historical sense of the Scripture, but even confound it by foolish 
allegories and bury it under the confusion they themselves 

The absurd system of Origen and Jerome, which these com- 



mentators have followed in these chapters of the book of Gen- 
esis, is well known. They have throughout departed from the 
plain history, which they call "the mere letter that killeth," and 
"the flesh;" and have magnificently displayed the spiritual 
sense, as they term it, of which they know nothing. And Jerome 
has followed Origen as his great teacher. Precisely the same 
thing also has taken place in our time. For as men gifted 
and eloquent, have bent their powers to persuade their hearers 
and readers that histories are mere dead facts, which profit 
nothing to the edification of the churches, it has thereby come 
to pass that we have all run headlong in our common study 
into allegories. And I myself also, when a youth, found won- 
derful success in this my attempt at allegorizing. For I found 
a license here to invent the greatest absurdities; seeing as I 
did that such great doctors of the churches as Jerome and 
Origen sometimes gave open field to their ingenuities. In- 
deed, to such an extent was this indulgence in allegories carried, 
that he who was the greatest adept at inventing them was ac- 
counted the greatest theologian. Augustine also, carried away 
by this false opinion, often disregards the historical sense of the 
Scriptures, especially in the Psalms, and has recourse to alle- 
gory. In fact, all were filled with the false persuasion that the 
allegorical meaning was the spiritual and true sense ; especially 
with reference to the histories of the Old Testament ; but that 
the historical or literal sense was the mere carnal interpreta- 

But is not this, I pray you, the positive profaning of sacred 
things? Thus Origen, out of paradise, makes heaven, and out 
of the trees, angels. If this be so, where is the article of the 
creed concerning creation? It is highly necessary therefore, 
especially in young students of the holy Scriptures, that when 
they come to read the old divines they condemn, with good 
judgment or rather with fixed determination, all those things 
in their writings which they find at all improbable or unsound, 
lest they be led astray by the authority that lies in the name of 
the fathers and doctors of the Church ; for in this way was I 


deceived, as were all the schools of the professors of divinity. 
For myself, ever since I thus began to abide by the historical 
sense of the Scriptures, I have cautiously shunned all allegoriz- 
ing; nor have I ever adopted allegories unless the text itself 
evidently furnished them or the interpretations derivable from 
the New Testament justified them. 

I found it very difficult however to give up entirely my 
long indulgence in allegorizing, although I saw that these 
allegories were vain speculations and the mere froth, as it were, 
of the holy Scriptures. For it is the plain historical sense of 
Scripture that truly and solidly teaches. After the plain sense 
of the Word has been rightly understood and mastered, then 
allegories may be used as certain ornaments by which the plain 
historical sense may be illustrated and strikingly depicted. But 
naked allegories which respond not at all to the historical reali- 
ties nor tend to paint them forth more impressively, are at once 
to be rejected as idle dreams ; for instance, from what part of 
the Scriptures can it be proved that paradise signifies heaven, 
and the trees of paradise the angels ? Are not these pure follies, 
and mere creatures of the brain without fruit or profit? 

Let those therefore who would adopt allegories, seek the jus- 
tification of them from the history itself in question ; for it is 
history which, like sound logic, teaches true and indubitable 
realities. On the other hand allegory, like oratory, ought to 
adorn history only ; but to prove facts, it avails nothing. Al- 
legory is useful in this way, as when we say that the heavens 
represent the Church, and the earth the empires and the political 
government. Thus Christ himself calls the Church "the king- 
dom of heaven" and the "kingdom of God." And the earth is 
called in the Scriptures the "land of the living," where men live 
and kings and princes rule, Job. 28:13. The Apostle Paul uses 
the same kind of allegory, when he represents Adam and Eve, 
or marriage itself, to be a type of Christ and his Church. This 
is an allegory full of divine instruction and consolation indeed. 
For, what could be uttered more deep or sweet than that the 
Church is the spouse and Christ the bridegroom? For, by this 



figure is signified both that conjugal fellowship and that most 
joyful communication of all those gifts which the bridegroom 
has to bestow, and by which gifts are buried in oblivion both 
all the sins and all the calamities with which the spouse is load- 
ed. Wherefore that is a most delightful word where Paul 
says, "For I have espoused you to one husband, that I might 
present you as a pure virgin to Christ," 2 Cor. 11 :2. 

In like manner the same apostle says, Rom. 5 114, that Adam 
was "the figure of him that was to come." And how ? The 
apostle himself gives the explanation : "For if by the trespass 
of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and 
the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto 
the many," V. 15. Does not this allegory, used by the apostle, 
beautifully refer to the historical facts recorded by Moses as its 
foundation? Exactly after the same manner does the apostle 
make out the history of Sarah and Hagar, an allegory where- 
by to represent the two Testaments, Gal. 4:24. Let all there- 
fore, who are inclined to introduce allegories, seek their founda- 
tion of them and justifications for them from the divine history 


Moreover we have heard above the sacred record of "the seed 
of the woman" and "the seed of the serpent." And to this 
history Christ refers in his parable or allegory concerning the 
enemy who sowed in the night the evil seed, that is, wicked 
doctrine and evil inventions, Math. 13 :28. Who docs not at 
once see that such allegories as these are more appropriate, 
more illustrative, more useful and far superior to those alle- 
gories which Augustine, Lyra and others have introduced con- 
cerning the inferior power and the superior power of reason, 
on which we have dwelt in their place? 

In like manner the closing of paradise and the stationing of 
a guard of Cherubim, with brandished swords of fire to prevent 
any one from re-entering, evidently signify nothing more or 
less than that man while living in the world "without," and 
destitute of faith in Christ, can endure neither the light of the 
law nor the light of the Gospel. And hence it is that Paul says 



concerning the Jews, "that they could not steadfastly behold 
the face of Moses, and that Moses was obliged to put a veil 
over his face on that account," 2 Cor. 3 7, 13. 

"The tree of death" in paradise represents the law, and "the 
tree of life" the Gospel or Christ. And to neither of these 
trees can any approach who have not faith in Christ. For they 
are prevented by the sword of the angels on guard, who cannot 
endure hypocrisy or poisonous self-righteousness. But who so 
acknowledges his sin and believes in Christ, to him the gate of 
paradise stands open, because he brings with him, not his own. 
righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ, which righteous- 
ness the Gospel therefore preaches unto all men, in order that 
all might rest upon it and be saved. 

But there is no need that we should pursue this subject of 
allegories further. Let it suffice that we have offered these ad- 
monitions, that we might thereby direct those who use al- 
legories to adopt those allegories alone, which the apostles have 
indicated and justified, and which have their sure foundation in 
the very letter and in the historical facts of the Scriptures. 

But we must offer a word concerning the cherubim. Fre- 
quent mention is made of them throughout the holy Scriptures. 
In the Latin authors we find nothing stated concerning them. 
They merely observe that the term cherub signifes a plentitude 
of knowledge. Among the Greek authors Dionysius speaks 
of the cherubim. There is a boasting report that Dionysius was 
a disciple of the Apostle Paul, but that is not true. Dionysius 
was a man full of the most vain absurdities, in which he 
abounds in his disputations concerning the heavenly and the 
ecclesiastical hierarchy. His imaginations make nine choirs, 
as so many ranks or spheres of heavenly beings. In the supreme 
hierarchy he places first the seraphim; next, the cherubim; 
next, thrones ; next, dominions ; next, powers ; and lastly, prin- 
cipalities. And then in the lower or iaferior hierarchy, he 
places first potentates ; next, archangels ; and last of all, angels. 
Now, who does not see that all these representations are noth- 
ing more nor less than idle and futile human inventions? 



After all this he says there are in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, 
first bishops, then deacons, then sub-deacons, then readers, 
then exorcists. In such absurdities as these that great man, 
the disciple of the chief of the apostles, the great teacher of the 
Gentiles, was exercised 1 And yet, such is the boasted authority 
of this supposed great man, that inflated hypocrites set down 
all these, his foolish inventions, as if handed down to them by 
oracles from heaven. Whereas in all these follies there is not 
one word to be found concerning faith, nor one word of useful 
instruction in the holy Scriptures. And who after all told him 
that there were nine choirs of heavenly beings and potentates? 
And why moreover did the Franciscans afterward add a tenth 
sphere, as a sort of palace, in which the holy mother Mary 
might dwell? In a word, these are follies and absurdities 
adapted only for Papists to learn and admire, as a just pun- 
ishment for their pertinacious war against all sound doctrine. 

With respect therefore to the Cherub I will offer my opinion 
a3 far as I have been enabled to form it from reading. The 
name Cherub appears to me to signify that florid countenance 
which we see in girls and young men in the blossom of their 
age. For this reason angels are represented in pictures as 
infants. So that by cherubim you may understand angels, as 
heavenly beings, appearing with a blooming countenance, and 
with brow free from wrinkle or sign of sorrow, and smoothly 
extended with joy, wearing a face plump and full with glad- 
ness, whether it be a human face or any other. The name 
Cherub therefore is a general appellation, a term which does 
not apply to any order of angels in particular, as Dionysius 
dreams, but has reference only to their general appearance, 
because they present themselves to men with a juvenile and 
florid aspect. 

And this indeed is the opinion of the Jews themselves, who 
assert that kerub is a Chaldaic term and that the letter Kappa 
is a servile letter, and that rub signifies a beautiful youth, who 
has a full and florid face ; and they affirm that the angels are 
called kerubim, as representing their florid and joyful and 



delightful countenance or appearance ; and thus they are gen- 
erally represented in paintings. 

In like manner the name Seraphim is a general appellation 
of angels ; a name derived from fire or burning on account of 
the quality of their form, as is shown in Numbers 21 :6, where 
Moses says, "And the Lord sent hannechaschim hassera- 
J'HIM, "fiery serpents" among the people ;" or, "serpent Sera- 
phim" {serpentes Seraphim) ; that is, "serpents burning or on 
fire." So that we may here understand Seraphim or fiery 
angels; that is, angels not only beautiful in their full and florid 
face, as are Cherubim, but also fiery or shining as the angel is 
represented in the Gospel to have been, which sat on the stone 
at the tomb of our Lord, of whom Matthew says, "His counte- 
nance was like lightning," Math. 28:3; and as angels are also 
described by the Psalmist, when he says, "Who maketh his 
angels spirits, and his ministers a flaming fire," Ps. 104 4. And 
again, it is said, Luke 2 :g, "That when the angel of the Lord 
came to the shepherds, the glory of the Lord shone round about 
them." Of the same description also was the countenance of 
Christ at his transfiguration on Mount Tabor, of whom it is 
said, "And his face did shine as the sun," Math. 17:2. The 
same also shall be our countenances, when we shall be raised 
again at the last day to enter into the glory Christ hath pre- 
pared for xis. 

With respect to what is written in the Books of Kings con- 
cerning "the Cherubims overlaid with gold," Cherubici certini, 
we are there to understand these full and blooming counte- 
nances of angels, together with their wings, 1 Kings 6:28. Not 
that angels really have wings, but because they cannot other- 
wise be described. Hence it is that we find, Is. 6:6, that the 
angel, who comes flying with a joyous and beautiful counte- 
nance, such as angels are described on pictures of tapestry, is 
called cherub. And if to this full and florid countenance 
there be added also brightness, such as was the shining coun- 
tenance of Stephen, full of joy and delight, so that nothing but 
rays of joy dart from the eyes, such angels are called Seraphim. 



Such as these shall we also be. Our countenances shall shine 
as bright as the mid-day sun. There shall be no wrinkle, no 
contracted brow, no watery eyes ; but as it is written, Rev. 21 H, 
"and God shall wipe all tears from our eyes ; and there shall 
be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall 
there be any more pain." Let us therefore hold fast this hope 
and live in the fear of God, until, being delivered from this life 
of affliction, we shall live that angelic and eternal life which is 
to come. Amen ! Amen 1 



I. Thus have we at length waded through that mighty sea 
of matter, in doing which, all who have made the attempt have 
so greatly sweated and toiled, and this sweat we also have 
fully experienced. To us however the whole way was much 
more direct and plain, hecausc, throwing aside all allegories, 
we have followed throughout the historical and proper sense 
of every passage. Whereas, the most commentators have not 
regarded that proper sense, but have made Origen, Dionysius 
and others their teachers, rather than Moses himself; and so 
have deservedly wandered out of the way. The things which 
now follow in the divine record are plainer than the preceding 
and admit of less dispute ; and therefore they tend more to sup- 
port my view of the sacred narrative ; because every one must 
plainly say that the intent of Moses was not to put forth a host 
of allegories, but simply to write a history of the primitive 

V. la. And the man knew Eve his wife, and she conceived 
and bare Cain. 

When Adam had fallen into death by sin, he had the pro- 
mise given him, as we have heard, that from his flesh, thus 
made subject to death, there would surely arise unto him a 
Branch of life. He fully understood therefore that he must 
propagate his seed ; and especially so, since the blessing pro- 
nounced on him and his wife, "Be fruitful and multiply," was 
not only not taken away, but afterwards confirmed by the divine 
promise concerning tixSeed of the woman, which should bruise 




the serpent's head. Therefore Adam did not know his wife 
Eve from the mere inclination of the flesh, as we generally 
judge ; but it was the necessity of that salvation, which was to 
come unto him through the blessed Seed of the woman that 
constrained him to do so. 

No one therefore ought to be offended with the relation of 
this circumstance by Moses that Adam "knew his wife." For 
although, on account of original sin, this divine act of genera- 
tion is considered to be one of turpitude, by which we find pure 
ears to be generally offended ; yet spiritual men ought always 
to distinguish between original sin and the creature or the ap- 
pointment of God. The act of generation, as a creation-appoint- 
ment of God, is good and holy, for it is the very blessing pro- 
nounced of God upon male and female when they were created. 
And if man had not fallen this act of generation would have 
been most pure, most holy and most honorable. For as no 
one blushes to converse, eat and drink with his wife, because all 
these things are honorable among all men, so, had it not been 
for the fall of Adam, the act of generation would also have 
been most honorable and void of all "shame 1" 

Generation has indeed been left to us, even in this state of 
fallen and corrupted nature. But there has adhered to it that 
poison of the devil, an impure lust and prurient concupiscence, 
which is the cause of numberless sins and evils ; from all of 
which, nature in its unfallen state was perfectly free. Now 
however we find by experience that the flesh is filled with 
inordinate and unsatisfied desires; so much so that even mar- 
riage is not for many a sufficient remedy. If it were, there 
would be no adulteries nor fornications. Whereas these, to our 
shame and pain, everywhere abound. Nay, in how many and 
various ways does this infirmity of the flesh discover itself, 
even in married persons ? These infinite evils arc not the con- 
sequences of the creation nor of the blessing pronounced on 
male and female. These latter proceeded from God. But 
they are the consequences of sin and of the curse, which 
proceeded from the sin of Adam. Therefore, the creation-ap- 



pointment of God ought to be separated from all these evils; 
for that is a good creature of God, concerning which even the 
holy spirit himself we see is not ashamed to speak. 

But further. Not only is there no idea of impurity to be at- 
tached to this mention of the creation-command and "blessing" 
of God made by Moses, when he says, "and Adam knew Eve 
his wife;" it was even necessary that Moses should write and 
teach these things on account of the heresies which were in 
later times to arise; such as those of Nicolaus, Tatian, etc.; 
and, above all, on account of the papacy. For we see the 
Papists were not the least moved by that which is written above, 
that the Lord created man "male and female." They so live 
and so bind and fetter themselves by vows, that they seem to 
be utterly ignorant that there are any such beings as the male 
and female sexes. They are not at all moved by what is also 
above written, that Jehovah God "Brought Eve unto Adam." 
and that Adam said "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of 
my flesh." They are not moved by the promise and blessing 
of God, "Be fruitful and multiply." The Decalogue touches 
them not, when it commandeth, "Honor thy father and thy 
mother !" Yea, they disregard their very origin ; born as they 
are from the union of male and female, commanded and blessed 
of God. Passing by, despising and casting away all these 
things, they compel their contemptible priests, monks and nuns 
to devote themselves to perpetual celibacy ; as if the married 
life, of which Moses here speaks, were a life reprobate and 
damnable 1 

The Holy Ghost however hath a purer mouth and purer 
eyes than the Pope! The Holy Spirit himself therefore 
blushes not to mention the act of generation, or the union of 
husband and wife ; though these great saints condemn it as im- 
pure and base. Nor does that Holy Spirit mention this mar- 
riage union in one place only of the sacred record. The whole 
Scriptures are filled with such histories ; so much so, that on 
that very account some popes have prohibited young monks 
and nuns from reading the holy Bible. But I need not enlarge. 



Suffice to say, that such has been the rage of the devil against 
this institution of God, holy matrimony, that the Papists have 
compelled men to abjure marriage, to the very end that they 
might institute their orders of a celibate life; and they have 
condemned the commandment of God, married life, as polluted 
in comparison with the life of celibacy, which they themselves 
have set up! 

This wickedness however has not been left without its own 
just punishments. For there are continually before our own 
eyes examples of the fruits which impure celibacy brings forth, 
and there are extant in books, record of most horrible crimes, 
of which it has been the cause. That holy man Udalric, an 
Augustan bishop, testifies that after Pope Gregory had de- 
termined on establishing celibacy, and had forbidden even those 
to live with their wives, who had been married before the decree 
concerning celibacy had gone forth, the Pope had a mind on 
one occasion to fish in a pond which he had in his park at 
Rome; and that when he did so it led to the discovery, that 
the fish-pond contained more than six thousand heads of in- 
fants ! The same Udalric also writes that Pope Gregory, being 
struck with awe and consternation at such a sight, revoked his 
sanction of the impious decree concerning celibacy. The suc- 
cessors of Gregory however easily swamped the foulness of 
this discovery, and the pious abolition of the decree by Gregory 
also; for they also, like their predecessors, considered that 
celibacy was adapted not only to increase their wealth, but to 
support their dignity. 

A similar example presented itself also in my time, when 
some nuns at Neumburg were compelled to leave the place, on 
account of their flagitious lives, and the monastery was given 
to the Franciscans ; and when these latter, for their convenience, 
caused some alterations to be made in the building; in laying 
these new foundations, there were discovered twelve pots, each 
one of which contained the dead body of an infant! An infinite 
number of similar instances have occurred at other places in 
every direction. 

3 fi 4 


Rightly therefore did Gregory act in revoking his decree, by 
which, as Bishop Udalric remarks, he made a very beautiful 
application of the word of the Apostle Paul, who says, "It is 
better to marry than to burn," to which, I also add, "It is better 
to marry, than to incur the peril of eternal death by sin." 

At Rome itself also on account of the great numbers of in- 
fants who are exposed monasteries are erected, of whom the 
Pope is nominated "the father!" And the near relatives 
of the infants, which have been so exposed, precede him in 
the public processions! I forbear to testify of an infinite num- 
ber of other kindred enormities, which are too bad to mention. 

Wherefore, it behooves us all to guard against such doctrines 
of devils as these, and to learn to hold marriage in all 
reverence; and with all reverence to speak of that holy life, 
which we see God himself has instituted ; and which we hear 
is commended of him in the Decalogue, where he says, "Honor 
thy father and thy mother," to which holy matrimony, is also 
added the blessing, "Be fruitful and multiply." And concern- 
ing this holy marriage it is, that the Holy Ghost is here speak- 
ing, whose mouth is holy and chaste. But all those sins and 
vices, and all that turpitude which have entered into the 
originally pure creation of God by sin, we ought not to agitate, 
or deride, or touch, when speaking of holy marriage, but rather 
carefully to cover them; just in the same way as we see that 
God covered the originally naked Adam and Eve with coats 
of skin after their sin. For marriage ought to be treated and 
spoken of by all as honorable, being the holy union from which 
we all are born ; and which is, as it were, the seminary not 
only of each nation but of the Church and kingdom of Christ 
unto the end of the world. 

This high glory of marriage however the heathen and pro- 
fane men do not understand. Therefore, all they can do is 
to collect the vices which exist in the marriage life itself, and 
in the abandoned female sex. And thus, separating the unclean 
things from the clean, they retain the unclean only ; and the 
clean they see not at all. Hence also, certain profane law- 



yers so irreverently judge and speak of this book of Genesis as 
to affirm that it contains nothing more than the marriage doings 
of the Jews. Are not then such men as these, I ask you, worthy 
of living to see marriage despised and unclean celibacy intro- 
duced, and themselves, subjected to its crimes and punishments, 
which exceed even those of Sodom? 

The Holy Spirit however thought it not enough to say here 
"And Adam knew Eve;" but he also adds, "his wife!" For 
the Holy Spirit approves not wandering lusts and promiscuous 
intercourse ! He wills that every man should live content with 
his own wife. And although, alas ! even that union of mar- 
ried people itself is very far from being pure, as it would have 
been had man continued in his state of innocency ; nevertheless 
even in the midst of the vices of lust and of all the other 
calamities of the fall of Adam, the "blessing" of God on mar- 
riage still stands unaltered. For the fact of Adam knowing 
Eve his wife, which Moses records, was not written for Adam 
and Eve's sake. When Moses penned these words, Adam and 
Eve had long been reduced to their original dust. It was for 
our sakes therefore that this was written ; "That those who can- 
not contain might marry, 1 Cor. 7 :o, "live content each with his 
Eve, and not desire strange women." 

This expression, "knew his wife," is a phrase peculiar to the 
Hebrews ; for neither the Latins nor the Greeks so expressed 
themselves. It is a form of speech particularly beautiful ; not 
only on account of the modesty and reverence it preserves, 
but on account of the peculiarity of signification it conveys. 
For the verb yada has a much more extensive meaning than 
the verb "to know" in our language. Thus, when Job says, 
concerning the wicked, "They shall know what it is to act 
against God" he means that they shall feel and experience the 
consequences of such actions. So, when David says, "For I 
acknowledge my sin," Ps. 51:3, his meaning is, I feel and 
experience what it is to sin. Again, when the angel of the 
Lord says to Abraham, "For now I know that thou fearest 
God," Gen. 22:12, his meaning is, "I know by sense and ex- 



perience." And again, when the Virgin Mary said unto the 
angel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man," Luke 
1 :34, her meaning is the same as that of Job, David, etc. For, 
it is evident that Mary knew many men, but she had neither 
known nor experienced any man, as man or the male of God's 
creation. It was in this manner therefore that Adam "knew 
Eve his wife," as it js expressed in the present passage. Adam 
did not know his Eve as an object of sight or of a speculative 
knowledge, but he experienced in reality what she was as the 
"woman," whom God had created such. 

That which follows, "And Eve conceived, and bare Cain," is 
sure evidence that the human nature was more excellent and 
perfect then than it is now. For there were originally no 
unfruitful embraces, as there are now in this old age of the 
worid. As soon as Eve was known by her Adam, she was 
immediately impregnated and conceived. 

II. Here a question may arise, why Moses says, "And bare 
Cain 1" Why he does not say, And bare a son, Cain ; as below, 
verse 25, where his expression is, "And she bare a son, and 
called his name Seth." Both Cain and Seth were sons. Why, 
then, are they not both called "sons"? The answer to this 
question is, that these different expressions of Moses were so 
ordered on account of the posterities. For, Abel being mur- 
dered by his brother, perished corporally ; but Cain by his sin 
perished spiritually. And yet the generation or seed-bed of the 
Churcli was not propagated from Cain, though he was still 
alive corporally; for all bis posterity perished in the flood. 
Therefore neither the blessed Abel, nor the accursed Cain, has 
in the Scriptures the name of "son." But Seth was the one 
from whose posterity Christ, that promised Seed, was ordained 
to be born. Seth therefore is the first of the children of Adam 
and Eve, who is counted worthy the name of "son." 

V. lb. And Eve said, I have gotten a man with the help 
of {from) Jehovah, 

From this expression of Eve there may be gathered another 
reason why she did not call Cain a "son." It was the great- 



ness of her joy and of her reverential awe, which prevented 
her from calling Cain a "son." For she thought something 
greater concerning Cain than a natural son. She considered 
Cain would be that man who should bruise the serpent's head. 
And therefore she does not say simply, "a man;" but, "a man 
of Jehovah," implying that he would be that man concerning 
whom the Lord God had promised her that her Seed should 
bruise the serpent's head. And although Eve was deceived 
in this her hope, yet it plainly appears that she was a holy 
woman, and that she believed in the salvation that was to 
come by the blessed Seed. And it was because she believed 
this, that she so greatly rejoiced in the son which she had borne, 
and that she spoke of him in the exalted terms contained in the 
text before us. It was as if she had said, "I have gotten a man 
of God, who will conduct himself more righteously and happily 
than I and my Adam conducted ourselves in paradise. There- 
fore I call him not my 'son.' He is a man of God, promised 
to me and shown to me of God." It might have been for this 
latter reason also, as well as for the former, that Eve did not 
call Cain "a son." 

With respect therefore to Eve's adhering so closely to the 
divine promise and believing so firmly in the deliverance 
that should surely come through her Seed, in all this she did 
rightly. For, by the same faith in the "Seed" that was to come, 
all the saints of old were justified and sanctified. But with re- 
spect to the individual intended by the promise, she erred. She 
believed that it was Cain who should put an end to all those 
calamities into which Satan had hurled man by sin. This faith 
of Eve however rested on a certain opinion of her own, without 
any sure sign and without the sure Word. The promise indeed 
was true, and certain, and sure; but nothing was said or 
signified definitely, whether it was Cain or Abel who should 
be that great conqueror of the serpent. 

In the matter therefore of determining the individual, Eve 
was deceived; and consequently her giving to her son so proud 
and joyous a name was all in vain. For the text shows that 



Cain was so called from the verb kanah, which signifies "to 
possess," or "to acquire." So that by this name Eve consoled 
herself against the evils she had brought upon herself, and set 
against them the acquisition of eternal life and salvation, which 
she should obtain by her Seed, against that loss of life and sal- 
vation which she had incurred by sin and Satan. It was as if 
she had said to her Adam, "I remember with sorrow what we 
have lost by our sin ; but now, let us speak of and hope for no- 
thing but recovery and acquisition. I have gotten a man of 
God, who will acquire and recover for us that glory which we 
have lost." It was this certainty of the promise therefore and 
her sure faith in it, which drew Eve into this haste and caused 
her to think that this her first son was the Seed concerning 
whom the Lord had made the promise. 

But Eve, poor miserable woman, was deceived in this. She 
did not yet see the extent of her calamity. She did not yet 
know that from the flesh nothing but flesh can be born, or pro- 
ceed, John 3 :6, that sin and death cannot be overcome by flesh 
and blood. Moreover she knew not as yet the point of time 
in which that blessed Seed, concerning whom the promise spoke, 
should be conceived of the Holy Ghost and be born of a virgin 
into the world. Just in the same manner the patriarch after 
Eve knew not this point of time, although the promise of the 
Seed to come was gradually made clearer and clearer by the 
revelation of the Holy Spirit. In the same manner also, we in 
our day know assuredly that there shall be a final judgment, 
but the day and the hour we know not. Just as Christ says, 
even unto his apostles, Math. 24:36. 

V. 2a. And again she bare his brother Abel. 

It cannot be known for a certainty whether Cain and Abel 
were twins or not, although it is very probable indeed that they 
were twins. But be that as it may, it is certain that our first 
parents had various thoughts concerning these two sons, and 
that they imagined that their redemption was at the door. Cain 
was doubtless held in the highest honor and made the object 
of their chief delight ; while Abel on the other hand was not 



an object of so much pleasure nor of so much hope, as the 
names themselves of the two sons show. Cain was so called, 
as we have said, because they considered that it was he who 
should acquire or restore all things. On the contrary Abel 
signifies "vanity" or "that which is nothing or of no value or 
abject." Some interpreters have rendered the name in our 
Bible "mourning" or "sorrow ;" but the Hebrew term for sorrow 
is ebel not habel. Moreover the expression heeel is of very 
frequent use in the sacred Scriptures. How often is it repeated 
in Ecclesiastes ? "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," Eccles. 1 :2, 
and also in the Psalm, "Therefore their days did he consume in 
vanity," Ps. 78:33; that is, they attained not the "promised 
land" of Canaan. 

Abel therefore was so called, as being considered one con- 
cerning whom there was no hope, or one respecting whom all 
hope was vain. But Cain was so named, as one of whom all 
things were hoped. These very names given to these two 
sons therefore plainly manifest the thoughts and feelings of 
the parents concerning them; that, as the promise was made 
concerning the Seed of the woman, Adam and Eve thought 
that the divine promise thus made was to be fulfilled through 
Cain, their first son ; but that Abel would effect nothing, seeing 
that everything was to be successfully accomplished as they 
thought through Cain. Therefore they called him Abel. And 
this hope which Adam and Eve entertained concerning Cain 
was undoubtedly the reason why these two brothers were not 
brought up with the same care and concern. For to Abel was 
committed the charge of the cattle; but Cain was trained in 
the pursuits of his father, and to the cultivation of the earth, 
as being the superior and nobler employment. Abel was a 
shepherd ; Cain was a king and a priest, being the first-born 
and destined by his birth to fulfil those high hopes and ex- 
pectations of the recovery of all his parents entertained con- 
cerning him. 

But here ponder the wonderful counsel of God ! From the 
beginning of the world, primogeniture has always held a very 



high privilege, not only among the people of God, with whom 
the right attached to primogeniture was an institution of God 
himself, and by him highly commended, but among the Gentile 
nations also. And yet facts and experiences prove, especially 
among the holy people, that the first-born have often disappoint- 
ed the hopes of their parents and that the after-born have often 
attained to the condition and dignity of the first-born. 

Thus were not our first parents miserably deceived in their 
hopes concerning their first-born, Cain, the murderer? So also 
Abraham, the exalted, was not the first-born, but Haran. So 
again Esau was the first-born; but he had to yield his birth- 
right and its blessing to Jacob. Again, David was the youngest 
of all his brethren, and yet he was anointed king. And the 
same wonderful counsel of God may be seen in many other 
instances in the Scriptures. For although the first-born had 
by divine right the prerogatives of the kingship and the priest- 
hood, yet they frequently lost them, and the after-born were 
appointed to them in their stead. 

And whence in most instances arose this perversion, of 
things ? Both from the fault of the parents and from the pride 
of the first-born themselves. The parents gave to their first- 
born greater liberty and indulgence; and then the first-born 
themselves thus corrupted by the indulgence of their parents 
despised and oppressed, through this pride in their birth-right, 
the rest of their brethren. But God is the God of the "humble." 
He "giveth grace to the humble, and resisteth the proud." Those 
first-born therefore, who exalt themselves in pride God puts 
down from their right and their seat ; not because such do not 
inherit the right of their primogeniture, but because they grow 
proud of their gifts and privileges, and carry themselves with 
insolence and oppression ; and such God cannot endure. 

Thus when the angels, who had been endowed with gifts the 
most noble and the most bright, above all other beings, began 
to grow proud in heaven and to despise the humility of the 
son of God, they were cast down into hell and became the most 
hideous devils. For God cannot endure pride and he will have 



his majesty preserved and held inviolate everywhere, as the 
prophet says, "And my glory will I not give to another," Is. 
42:8,4, 11. 

Thus also, the people of Israel were God's peculiar people, 
and the holy city of Jerusalem was the habitation of God. But 
when they cast off the fear of God and grew proud, through a 
confidence in their high gifts and privileges, the whole people 
was cut off and their city laid waste by the Gentile nations. And 
this indeed is the common pestilence of our nature. We rest 
not content with the gifts which God has bestowed upon us, 
but abuse them through pride and insult our bountiful Creator 
and giver. God, for example, bestows empires, kingdoms, 
peace and other large blessings, that kings and princes might 
acknowledge him, worship him and give him thank's. But kings 
and princes so abuse these great gifts and favors, as if they were 
bestowed upon them for the very end that they might insult 
and trample under foot their Creator, who has been to them 
so bountiful a giver. 

The very same evil of pride also is found in private and 
domestic life. God gives sound health, wife, children, and 
personal property; not that through these things we should 
offend him, but that in all such things we might acknowledge 
his mercy and render him continual thanks. And for this 
same end also, that we might always give him thanks, he has 
bestowed upon us the use of and the "dominion" over all his 
creatures. But how few are there who render unto God the 
thanks which are thus due to him ! Do not almost all of us live 
in the continual and most shameful abuse of the gifts of God? 
God therefore is compelled to use in our case the same remedy 
which the Roman Emperor Vespasian adopted. He used to 
suffer his citizens to grow rich. For he was accustomed to 
say, that such rich ones were like a sponge, which when filled 
with water, if well squeezed, will give back the water in 
abundance. So when God has enriched certain ones with his 
bountiful gifts, if they grow ungrateful and abuse the bounty 
of their God, he squeezes them till they are empty again ; as the 



blessed Virgin says, "And the rich he hath sent empty away." 

It was for this reason that God did not spare the first-born, 
Cain. He did not give the first birth-right to Cain, that he 
might grow proud of it and despise his God ; but that he might 
adorn it, and reverence and fear his God ; and when he did not 
this, God cast him off. And in this matter the sin belonged 
even to the parents also. They fostered this pride in their first- 
born as the names they gave their two sons plainly prove. 
For Adam and Eve placed all their hope in their first-born only. 
They called him "their treasure," as his name indicates. But 
Abel they looked upon as nothing and considered that he could 
do nothing ; while they adorned Cain as a king and held him 
to be the "blessed Seed." From him therefore they promised 
to themselves great things, and of him they speak great things; 
and h; on his part became filled with pride. But Abel they 
despised all the time as a man of naught. 

God however in due time reverses all things. He casts 
away Cain and makes Abel an angel, and the "first of all the 
saints." For Abel, when murdered by his brother, was. the 
"first" who was delivered from his sin and from all the 
calamities of this world, and he shines throughout the whole 
church to the end of the world as a distinguished star, through 
that illustrious testimony of "righteousness," which the whole 
Scriptures bear to his honor. 

In this manner therefore was Abel, whom Adam, Eve and 
Cain despised as a man of naught, made in the sight of God 
a lord of heaven and earth. For after death Abel is placed in 
a higher state and condition than if he possessed a thousand 
earthly worlds with all their riches. 

Such i: the end of pride and presumption against God ! Cain 
trusted in his birth-right and despised his brother in comparison 
with himself, and believed not the promise concerning Christ; 
Abel on the contrary took fast hold by faith of the promise 
made unto Adam concerning the Seed of the woman. And this 
faith was also the reason he offered a more excellent sacrifice 
than Cain, as the Epistle to the Hebrews expresses it, Heb. n 14. 



V. 2b. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain -was a 
tiller of the ground. 

According therefore to the names given to the two sons 
by Adam and Eve, such was the condition of life to which 
each son was appointed by his parents; and the difference of 
these appointments manifests that exalted hope which the 
parents entertained concerning Cain above his brother. For 
although each "calling" of life is honorable, yet that of Abel 
is domestic only, while that of Cain is rather political or public 
in the nation. As Adam was himself a tiller of the ground, 
he trained Cain, whom he more greatly loved, to his father's 
higher calling; while to Abel is committed the more leisure 
care of the flock. So that it plainly appears that the one son 
was looked upon as the lord and the other as a servant by his 

V. 3. And in process of time after the end of days, it came 
to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering 
unto Jehovah. 

"After the end of days," that is, after a certain number of 
years had been fulfilled or accomplished. It is here that we are 
first informed that the godly parents, Adam and Eve, preached 
to their children often and much concerning the will and the 
worship of God. For we here find that both the sons brought 
unto God their offering. But you will inquire perhaps what, 
and concerning what, did Adam and Eve preach unto their 
children. They certainly had most glorious subjects for all 
their sermons and conversations. They remembered well their 
original condition, and what paradise then was ; and without 
doubt they frequently pointed out to their children the place, 
now guarded by the prohibiting angels, and warned their chil- 
dren to beware of sin, by which they had been deprived of so 
many blessings and shut out from them. 

On the other hand there is no doubt that they exhorted their 
children to live in the fear of God, that they might console 
themselves with the confidence of his goodness toward them ; 
assuring them that if they did so, they would attain to a better 



state after this present life. And who could enumerate all the 
blessings of that former life, which they had originally en- 
joyed! To all their teaching was added that other branch of 
doctrine concerning the promise of the Seed of the woman, and 
of the great deliverance from all calamities to come. And most 
probably these God-fearing parents preached all these things 
to their children in a certain place, and especially on the Sab- 
bath days. And it was doubtless by being stirred to do so by 
these sermons, that the children came to offer their sacrifices 
and to render unto God his worship. 



I. Now this is the first passage of the Scripture in which 
mention is made of mincha, or "an offering," from which it 
plainly appears that the custom of sacrificing and offer in g 
victims is no recent thing, but a practice which has existed 
from the beginning of the world. It is no wonder therefore 
that the offering of sacrifices, which had been a custom handed 
down from Adam to Moses, as from hand to hand, should at 
length have been reduced by Moses into its own peculiar forms 
and into a certain order ; all those things being rejected and re- 
pudiated, doubtless many, which the vain superstition of men 
had added to the original manner of sacrificing. Such additions 
are seen in the examples furnished by the heathen sacrifices, 
contained in Homer and Virgil, which sacrifices the heathen 
nations no doubt received from the primeval fathers, but which 
they multiplied and encumbered with many things through 
their superstition. 

And while I am dwelling on the present passage, let the read- 
er first of all consider with me that Adam and Eve are not 
parents only, nor is it their sole care to feed their children and 
to rear them for this present life. They hold the offices and 
perform the duties of priests also. And because they are filled 
with the Holy Ghost and illuminated with the knowledge of 
Christ who was to come, they set this great hope of their future 



deliverance before their children also, and exhort them to show 
forth their gratitude to the God of such infinite mercy. For it 
is to be received as a sure fact, that the end of all the sacrifices 
which have been handed down to us from the beginning was 
none other than to set forth this great hope! 

And now consider with me next, what kind of Hearers there 
were to listen to this good and holy doctrine from the lips of 
Adam and Eve. These hearers and scholars were two. Cain, 
the first-born who appeared as a saint and was believed to be 
the lord of all, was a wicked man and believed not the divine 
promise. On the other hand, Abel, whose authority was as 
nothing and was thrust aside to take care of the cattle, was a 
godly man and believed the promise. And yet the ungodly 
Cain so concealed his ungodliness, that he heard his parents 
when teaching him and his brother, as if he solemnly reverenced 
the Word; and he also brought his offering, as his godly 
brother did. Here we have an example of the twofold church ; 
the true Church and the hypocritical church, as we shall more 
fully explain hereafter. For although, in the passage now 
before us, mention is made of the sacrifice offered only, and 
not of preaching also, yet we are to rest fully assured that 
Cain and Abel did not bring their offerings without the preach- 
ing of the Word. For God is not worshipped with a mere 
dumb work. Here must also be the Word, sounding both in 
the hearts of men and in the ears of God. And in the same 
way also calling upon the name of the Lord was added to 
this original sacrifice. 

Some may here inquire, whether Cain and Abel had any word 
or command of God for offering their sacrifice. My answer is, 
as all sacred histories confirm, that the great and merciful God 
of his superabounding grace always appointed together with 
his Word some certain and visible sign of his grace ; in order 
that men being admonished and kept in remembrance by means 
of the certain signs or works of the sacraments may the more 
surely believe that God is favorable and merciful unto them. 
In the same manner after the Flood, God set his bow in the 



heavens, that it might be a sure sign and proof that he would 
not again visit the world with a like punishment. After the 
same manner also, circumcision was given unto Abraham, 
as we shall hear in order that he might hold fast the assurance 
that God would be to him a God, and that he would give him 
a Seed in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed. 
To us under the New Testament are given Baptism and the 
Supper of our Lord, as ordained visible signs of grace, that we 
might be the more fully assured that our sins are all taken away 
by the suffering of Christ for us and that we are redeemed by 
his death. Hence the Church was never left so destitute of 
external signs, that men were suffered to remain in ignorance 
as to where God might be found without fail. 

And although the world for the most part follows in the 
steps of Cain and abuses those external signs of the grace of 
God, turning them into hypocrisy, it is nevertheless evidently 
an unspeakable mercy that God represents himself unto us in 
so many ways. And this very great gift of God is that which 
is intended to be lauded by those high commendations contained 
in Proverbs, "I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before 
him; rejoicing in his habitable earth," Prov. 8:30, 31. But 
the Hebrew word sachak is not translated into German, "to 
play ;" for wisdom here declares that her regard was always 
directed toward men, to the intent that she might reveal herself 
to men. The meaning is, as if God had said, "I have always 
so walked before the eyes and in the hearing of men, that they 
may always understand me to be present in their sacrifices, in 
circumcision, in their offering of incense, in the cloud by day, 
in the Red Sea, in the manna, in the brazen serpent, in the 
tabernacle of Moses, in the temple of Solomon, and in the 
cloud over the mercy-seat, and all these things were my delight ; 
that by means of them I might present myself before the eyes 
of the sons of men and reveal myself unto them. 

And it was also a great consolation to Adam, that after para- 
dise had been lost and the tree of life also, and those other 
blessings of paradise which had been outward signs of the grace 



of God, God gave unto him another sign of his grace ; namely, 
that of offering sacrifices ; in order that by this given sign he 
might understand that he was not cast off by God, but was 
still the care of his maker, and the concern of his Creator. 
And this is what God intended to be understood by Adam, 
when he had lighted his sacrifices and oblations with the 
heavenly fire, and when the flame which consumed them as- 
cended to heaven ; as we read concerning the sacrifices of Moses 
and of Elijah. For all these sacrifices were true symbols and 
representations of the divine mercy ; of all these signs, miser- 
able men had need, that they might not be without some con- 
tinual light and indication of the grace of God. 

In the same manner also the Word itself Baptism and the 
Lord's Supper are our morning stars, upon which we look as 
sure indications and representations of the Sun of grace. For 
we can definitely affirm, that where the Lord's Supper, Baptism 
and the Word are, there is Christ, the remission of sins and 
eternal life. On the contrary, where these signs of grace are 
not, or where they are despised by men, there, not only is there 
not grace, but also foul errors abound : so much so that men 
make to themselves other signs and appoint other modes of wor- 
ship. Thus the Greeks worshipped their Apollo, and other 
heathen nations their demons. The Egyptians worshipped their 
Anubis, their Serapis, and crocodiles, garlic, onions, etc., etc. 
The Romans adored as their gods Jupiter Quirinus, and the 
abominable statues of Priapus, Venus, etc. 

The very same thing has occurred also in tne papacy. For 
after those true signs of grace began to sink in men's esteem 
and to be despised, superstition could not remain quiet. It 
sought out for itself other signs, such as vows, orders of 
monks, pilgrimages to the tombs of the saints, intercessions of 
the saints, and other superstitions. All these things are full 
of errors, and joined with ungodliness ; and yet miserable 
mortals embrace them as certain signs of divine grace. And 
amidst all this you hear of no bishop who condemns, no school 
which exclaims against such blasphemies as these, nor which 



teaches sounder things. For where the light of the Word is 
lost and these signs of grace also, which God has given unto 
men, people necessarily run after the desires of their own 
hearts. So also the Jews, when they had despised the taber- 
nacle and the temple, sacrificed under trees and in groves, even 
until parents became so cruel as to sacrifice their own children. 

All this idolatry, so various and so widely wandering out of 
the way, plainly shows how great a gift of God it is to possess 
the Word and those signs of divine grace, which God himself 
set forth and commanded. And if the Gentiles had been willing 
to follow in the footsteps of the Jews, they would never have 
fallen away into those monstrous idolatries under which they 
were sunk. And so also with respect to ourselves; had we 
held Baptism and the holy Supper of our Lord in that esteem 
in which we ought to have held them, we should never have be- 
come monks. Nothing concerning purgatory, nothing concern- 
ing the sacrifice of the mass, nothing about those other like 
iniquities, would ever have been taught and handed down to us 
in the Church. But after the light of the Word had been put 
out by the wicked Popes, it was easy enough to thrust upon men 
all these abominations. 

Unspeakable therefore is this gift, that God not only con- 
descended to speak unto men by his Word, but added also to 
the Word these visible signs of his grace; as in the New 
Testament, Baptism and the Supper of our Lord. Are not those 
therefore who use these signs in a mariner beneath their dignity, 
or who treat them with contempt, worthy of being left as they 
are to purchase the Pope's dung, as the richest balsam, and to 
worship it, and to pray to it ? For why dared they despise such 
goodness of the divine majesty ? They might have had, if they 
pleased, these sure signs of the grace of God at their own houses 
without any expense and without any labor. But despising 
these, they travel to Rome and to Compostella, etc. j and thus 
spend their money and afflict their bodies, and at length most 
justly lose their souls. God be blessed forevermore, that he 
has in this our day recalled us by his Word from these mighty 



errors and idolatries, and has so enriched us with the signs of 
his divine grace, that we may have them before our doors and 
in our home and even on our beds. 

It was in this manner that God at first and from the very 
beginning of the world, in order to confirm his promise concern- 
ing our salvation, took this care that men might always have 
signs by which they might comfort themselves under their sins, 
and might lift up their heads by a confidence in the divine 
grace. For it is not the dignity of the work or act itself, but 
the mercy of God and the efficacy of the divine promise in the 
sacrifice, which are availing unto the worshipper. It is because 
God hath ordained these acts of worship, and because he hath 
promised that they shall be well-pleasing unto him, that Bap- 
tism and the Supper of our Lord are to us, what the sacrifice 
and offering after the promise were to Adam. For God in 
those sacrifices revealed his grace ; and he approved those same 
sacrifices by himself igniting them and consuming them by fire 
from heaven. 

II. And it was to these acts of worship that the first father 
brought up his sons; that they might in this manner render 
their thanks unto God, might bless God, and might conceive 
a sure hope in the mercy of God. But the wicked Cain, inflated 
with the dignity of his first birth-right, despised all these most 
blessed preachings of his parent. He brought his offering in- 
deed as his father had commanded him ; but, puffed up with 
the high opinion of his own sanctity, he imagined that God 
would approve the act of the worship itself, because of the 
dignity of the person, the worshipper. And Abel, who, ac- 
cording to the name given him, was nothing in his own eyes, 
also brought his offering ; but he worships God thereby through 
faith in the divine promise ; as it is written in the Epistle to the 

Hebrews, Heb. 11:4- 

V. 4a. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his 
flock and of the fat thereof. 

Here, if you look at the acts of their worship themselves, you 
can see no reason for preferring Abel to Cain, For the Jews 



expose their absurdity by their dreams when they say that Cain 
did not offer chosen wheat, but chaff only ; and that was the 
reason why he was rejected of God. But the Jews are self- 
righteous worshippers and cleave unto the works themselves. 
The judgment of the Epistle to the Hebrews however is quite 
different ; the testimony of which is, that it was '"By faith that 
Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain," 
Heb. i r 14. The fault of the offering therefore did not lie in 
the things which were offered, but in the person who offered 
them. And it was the faith of the person and its weight, which 
gave the value to the offering made by Abel ! But Cain, by 
the state of his person, rendered the offering which he made of 
no avail. Abel believed that God was good and merciful, and 
it was this faith that rendered his offering acceptable to God. 
Cain on the contrary trusted in the dignity of his first birth- 
right and despised his brother as a man of naught in com- 
parison with himself. What therefore in the end was proved 
to be the judgment of God ? God made the first-born to be as 
the after-born, and the after-born to be as the first-born. For 
he had respect unto the offering of Abel, and showed that the 
Offering of this priest was acceptable unto himself; and, on the 
other hand, he declared that Cain was not acceptable to him 
and that he was not a true priest in his sight. 

The Hebrew expression, schaah, has a very wide signifi- 
cation ; and I have carefully explained its full meaning in my 
paper against Latomus; and also, its like signification, as found 
in the prophet Isaiah. "In that day shall men look to their 
Maker, and their eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of 
Israel ; and they shall not look to the altars, the work of their 
hands," Is. 17:7, 8, and likewise, Is. 66:12, "And ye shall suck- 
thereof; ye shall be borne upon the side, and shall be dandled 
upon the knees," The full meaning of the original expression 
therefore and its allusion are, that when a mother cherishes 
her babe in her bosom and looks upon it, she views it with a 
glad and delighted eye. This is the meaning, the allusion and 
the figure, which the original expression conveys. Its signifi- 



cation therefore is much more extensive than that of the com- 
mon verb, "to see," or "to behold." For when a mother looks 
at her babe, she smiles upon it with delight and carries in her 
countenance a peculiar expression of love. The modern ex- 
pressions of our language do not contain a term by which the 
full import of this original word can be conveyed ; nor does 
the Latin language, as far as I know, contain any expression 
adequate to its satisfactory translation. 

Quite similar is that which Moses says in Exodus 33:15, " li 
thy presence (fades tuae) go not with me, carry us not up 
hence," that is, grant that we may ever have thy signs with us 
in our midst, by which thou appearest always before us, and 
makest manifest thy presence with us and thy favor unto us. 
And these signs, as I have said, were the pillar of fire and the 
cloud, etc. And though Moses does not, in this portion of the 
divine history explain what that sign was, by which God 
showed that the offerings of Abel were acceptable unto him ; 
yet it is very probable that his acceptance and pleasure were 
manifested by fire sent down from heaven, by which the offer- 
ing and the victim were ignited and consumed before the eyes 
cAll present, by which it was plainly shown that God was 
delighted with the sacrifice Abel offered. For by this divine 
manifestation God showed that he judgeth the heart and the 
reins; because, in these two offerings, he "had not respect" 
unto the glory of the first birth-right of Cain ; but, on the other 
hand, he "had respect" unto the mind of the despised Abel. 

And here the whole Church first begins to be divided into 
that church, which is "the church" in name only, but which in 
reality is the church of hypocrisy and the church of blood ; and 
into that other church, which is barren and desolate in appear- 
ance, and subject to sufferings and to the cross, and which, be- 
fore the world and in the estimation of that church of hypocrisy, 
is really the Abel; that is, vanity and nothing. But Christ 
himself, who also makes this division and difference, calls 
Abel the "righteous" one and makes him the beginning of the 
Church of the godly, which shall continue even unto the end of 



the world. While Cain is the beginning of that church of en- 
mity and blood, which also shall continue unto the end of the 
world ; as Augustine also setteth forth this history in his book, 
"The City of God." 

A great doctrine therefore and a great consolation are set 
before us, while wc trace both these churches to these their 
original fountains, as it were, and when we mark that won- 
derful counsel, with which God has ever ruled and overruled 
these things; ordaining that the true Church should at one 
time be greater and at another time less ; yet, so that the hypo- 
critical and the bloody church should always have the glory be- 
fore the world and should crucify the true Church, which is the 
beloved of her God. For even thus at the beginning did com- 
mence the practical fulfilment of that divine prediction, that 
the seed of the serpent should bite the heel of the blessed Seed. 
And this same enmity and biting we experience to this very 
day. Threfore we ought not to be affrighted by this our ap- 
pointed lot. It ought rather to be unto us a great consolation 
that we learn by our own experience to suffer those very things 
at the hands of our enemies, which the bloody Cain inflicted on 
the "righteous" Abel. 

For it is not now the first time that the name of the Church 
is torn from us, and that we are called heretics, and that 
those who kill us glory that the)- are the only true Church, and 
maintain that assumed name by fire and sword, and by every 
kind of cruelty. The same thing befell righteous Abel. The 
same thing befell Christ our Lord, who was not a priest nor a 
king of Jerusalem before the people; and yet he was dragged 
by the priests and by the kings to the cross ! And we all, as 
the apostle says, must be made conformable to Christ, And 
thus it is that the true Church is ever hidden and unknown, 
and is cast out, and its members held as heretics, and slain ; 
while Cain alone has the glorious name and is held in estima- 
tion, and alone possesses the hope of doing great things; and 
therefore it is that he rushes on his brother with hostile en- 
mity of mind and slays him. 



Now these things were not political nor domestic, but truly 
ecclesiastical in the highest degree. Abel was not slain on any 
political or domestic account, but alone on account of the wor- 
ship of God. For it was not enough for Cain that he was the 
lord of the family, he wishes to be the son of God ; he will be 
the pope and father of the church. And therefore he takes 
upon himself the judgment of sacrifices, and condemns and 
slays his brother as a heretic. 

Hence is the prophecy of Christ that the Church should be 
subject to various perils and that the time should come when 
those who should slay the godly should think that they were 
thereby worshipping God and doing him service. Therefore 
those who will consider themselves the most righteous among 
us, these are the pestilences and the persecutors of the Church. 
On the other hand, the true Church is that church which is 
never judged to be "the Church." But she is, according to her 
name, the Abel who was not only a figure of the true Church 
but the very beginning of it; that is, she is accounted as 
naught, so that when she is slain, her slayers think that God 
will care nothing about her, because Cain, they think, as being 
lord of all and king, may do and is able to do any tiling. 

Now this is the offense of the cross, against which we have 
ever to fight by faith. For we are not to think that we are not 
the Church, because our adversaries condemn us and persecute 
us with every kind of cruelty thus securely. But, on the con- 
trary, we are ever to consider that this cross and these 
judgments of the wicked are the sure and infallible signs of 
the true Church, as the tenth Psalm shows, also Psalm 72:14, 
"And precious shall their blood be in his sight ;" and Fsalrn 1 16 : 
15, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." 
In these Psalms therefore you hear that those who are slaugh- 
tered in this manner by the Cainites are so far from being from 
the care of God that their death is precious in his sight. Those 
therefore who are thus the care of God are the true people of 


Wherefore, let us endure the cruelty of our adversaries and 



let us joyfully give thanks unto God that we are not in the 
number of those who are the slayers; and who, because of their 
name and title, persecute "the Church," seize upon the property 
of others, and rush with cruelty and violence upon their bodies 
also. And indeed the histories of all ages and times testify that 
the true Church was ever a suffering Church, that the false 
Church was ever an evil and violent Church ; and that the true 
Church was ever condemned by the church of hypocrisy and 
blood. Hence there can be no doubt among us of the present 
day that the Church of the Pope is the Cainite Church, and 
that we are the true, the Abel Church ; and as Abel harmed not 
Cain, so we not only do no harm to the Church of the Pope, but 
suffer ourselves to be harassed, condemned and slaughtered by 

Nor do we record these things falsely. It is well known to 
the whole world how often we are subjected to anathemas, dis- 
tressed by subscriptions, and condemned by various denuncia- 
tions. Nor have there ever ceased to be found men in almost 
every corner or Europe ready to offer themselves as the fierce 
executors of crudest decrees. Neither Spain, nor France, nor 
England, nor Belgium, nor Bohemia, nor Poland, nor Hun- 
gary, nor Austria, nor Bavaria, has been free from witnessing 
this unjust cruelty and savage rage. And yet, what were they 
persecuting all the while ? What, but godly doctrine, a doctrine 
perfectly agreeing with the writings of the apostles and proph- 
ets? Can there be any doubt or obscurity then in forming 
a judgment concerning the true Church? For can you possibly 
judge that to be the true Church where nothing sound is taught, 
where unjust tyranny is practiced, and where the highest power 
is joined with the greatest wealth ? Is not that rather the true 
Church where there is sound and holy doctrine, healing to 
afflicted consciences ? And where, for the sake of that doctrine, 
there are endured the cross, contempt, poverty, ignominy, and 
all those things of the same kind which the poor little helpless 
flock of Christ is recorded ever and everywhere to have suf- 


38 = 

It is not only most useful therefore, but also most consoling, 
to have ever before our eyes this most certain demonstration, 
which carries with it so plain a distinction between the two 
Churches, that Church which is filled with men of enmity and 
malignity, such as that purple harlot, bearing the name of the 
true Church ; and that other Church, which is accounted as 
naught, which suffers, which hungers and thirsts, and lies pros- 
trate under oppression. For Christ records that he and his 
disciples both hunger and thirst in this world, Math. 25 :35~46. 
But the judgment shall one day come which shall judge be- 
tween the full and the hungry, between the goats and the sheep, 
between Cain and Abel. At this judgment God shall declare 
that he approves this suffering and hungering Church, and con- 
demns the Church of hypocrisy and blood. These are our con- 
solations and this is that sugar as it were, by which our present 
calamities must be sweetened and overcome. Such then is the 
theological part of this divine matter. Now let us come to the 
political part of it, and consider the judgment of God concern- 
ing that. 

We doubtless may justly wonder why it was that God permit- 
ted the first son of Adam, to whom the honor of the first birth- 
right was always due throughout the whole human race, to fall 
so horribly that his whole posterity should afterwards be de- 
stroyed. But the cause was the very same as that on account 
of which God spoke with such bitter derision to Adam when 
he said, "Lest he also become as one of us," Gen. 3 :22. The 
reason was the same as that for which the Lord guarded the 
garden by the cherubim. For God will crush all presumption 
and pride, which are implanted as it were in the heart of man 
by original sin. And such is our nature that we can endure 
anything else better than this crushing of our pride. We see 
what insolence and pride there are in all our nobles of the court, 
on account of the vain nobility of their descent. For truly vain 
is that nobility, which real worth and illustrious services to his 
country have not procured for a man. 

It is said of Plato, the philosopher, that he also was accus- 


tomed to give thanks to God for three things ; first, that he was 
born a man and not a beast ; secondly, that he was born a Greek 
at Athens, and not a barbarian ; and thirdly, that he was born 
a man and not a woman. The fatuity of the Jews is just like 
this. They glory that they were born men, and not beasts; 
Jews, and not Gentiles ; males, and not females. But to what, 
I pray you, does all this glory of origin amount? What van- 
ity is it to see a certain ass in a palace with his gold chains on, 
not only thinking himself better than every one of the people, 
but also growing proud and insolent against God himself. Just 
so it was with the Romans. They prided themselves in the 
course of years on the glory of their nation's mighty deeds, 
always carefully thrusting from them the degrading term "bar- 
barian." In a word, the greater any nation has ever grown in 
its own eyes, the more proud and insolent it has ever become. 
And the same is the nature of us all by sin. 

But look at the judgment of God in this matter. Cain could 
truly and justly boast in the highest of all nobility, for he was 
the first-born of all mankind. But the greater and more glori- 
. ous his origin was, by so much the more horribly did he fall. 
Hence general experience has also given place to the well- 
known proverb, which says, "The sons of the great are great 

Nor are these evils peculiar to private families only, mighty 
empires suffer the same. The nation of the Greeks was most 
glorious. They excelled all other nations in their learning and 
in the greatness of their illustrious deeds. But into what ex- 
tremes of turpitude did they fall ? And how miserably was their 
nation destroyed at last? And you may see the very same 
things fulfilled in all nations. Good therefore was God in per- 
mitting Cain thus to fall, that he might be an example to the 
whole world, that no one might ever glory in the nobleness of 
his blood, as the Jews boasted of their father Abraham and as 
the Greeks boasted of their wisdom. For God will have himself 
to be feared and us to be humbled. But this his will, though 
known to us, is for the most part known to us in vain. For we 



are not moved by all these terrible instances of his wrath nor 
by the perditions and destructions of the first men and the first 

Universal experience therefore testifies, that the sentiment of 
the Virgin Mary is true, "He hath put down the mighty from 
their seats," Luke l :$2. For those things which are the first 
and the best become the most damnable, not from anything in 
themselves that is evil, but on account of the diabolical pre- 
sumption and pride of men. This sad result the Gentiles also 
saw, as the well-known saying of one of their philosophers tes- 
tifies, who being asked what God was doing replied, "Exalting 
the humble, and humbling the exalted." But the heathen phil- 
osophers saw not the cause of all these things. 

Thus also 'the flesh judges it to be great glory to be born 
a male, and not a female. We see however that God has taken 
especial care that man, so great, should not be born of man, 
and so also Christ would have himself to be called "the Seed 
of the woman," not the "Seed of the man." O what would have 
been the pride of men had God willed Christ to be born of a 
man! No! all this glory is transferred from the men to the 
women, subject to the rule of the men. And all this was done 
that men might not glory in themselves, but be humbled. Nay, 
since the woman cannot bring forth without the man, God has 
therefore especially ordained that the men also should not bring 
forth of themselves without the woman. For such is human 
nature, that man cannot rightly use his glory, but ever abuses 
it with pride and rises up against him from whom he receives 
such gifts. It was for this reason therefore that Cain so 
awfully fell and lost the right of his first birthship, that we 
might be thereby taught to fear God and to give him thanks, 
and might be warned against abusing his gifts in arrogance and 

Vs. 4b, 5a. And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his 
offering; but unto Cain and his offering he had not respect. 

This is an important portion of Scripture, and therefore it is 
to be most carefully observed and most strongly enforced. For 



it would be sufficient for all doctrine if under the New Testa- 
ment trust in the mercy of God were set before men against all 
trust in works with so clear a testimony and in such plain words 
as it was thus set forth at the very beginning of the world. For 
when Moses says that the Lord had respect unto Abel and to 
his offering, but unto Cain and his offering he had not re- 
spect, does he not clearly show that God ever respects the per- 
son before the work, and that he first looks at the person who 
performs the work? And does not the sacred historian make 
it perfectly plain, that if the person be good, his work also 
pleaseth God; but that, if the person be evil, the work also of 
such an one does not please God? 

Now this is the sum of our doctrine, which we profess and 
teach, that the person is accepted of God before the work! 
And that the person is not made righteous by the righteous 
work, but on the contrary that the work is rendered righteous 
and good by the good and righteous person, as the text now 
before us clearly proves. For because God, as here shown, had 
respect unto the person of Abel, he had respect also unto his 
offering. But on the other hand, because God had not respect 
unto the person of Cain, therefore unto his offering also he 
had not respect. This doctrine the text before us plainly proves, 
nor can our adversaries deny it. From the words of that text 
therefore follows this most clear and most evident consequence : 
that Abel was "righteous" before the work of his "offering," 
and that his work pleased God, because of his person ; not his 
person, because of his work. Yet it is for the latter doctrine 
that our adversaries contend, who teach that the man is justi- 
fied by his works, and not by his faith alone. 

And it is in this manner that the author of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews looks at this text with clear and pure eyes, when he 
says, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacri- 
fice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was right- 
eous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it, he being dead, yet 
speaketh," Heb. n 4. Cain also offered, and also before Abel 
brought his offering; but the former offered, inflated with the 



glory of his birth, expecting that his gift would please God, be- 
cause it was offered by the first-born. Cain therefore comes 
to offer without faith, without the confession of sin, without 
imploring the grace of God, without trust in the mercy of God, 
and without prayer for the remission of sins, having no other 
ground for his hope that he shall please God, than because he 
was the first-born; and this is what all self-justificrs do at this 
day. They look intently on their works alone and hope that 
they shall please God on account of their works. They trust 
not in the mercy of God only, nor hope in God that he will par- 
don their sins for Christ's sake. And such was Cain. But it 
would have been impossible for him to have displeased God, 
if he had possessed faith. 

Abel, on the contrary, acknowledged himself to be an un- 
worthy and miserable sinner; and therefore he fled unto the 
mercy of God and believed that God was favorable unto him, 
and that he was willing to have mercy upon him. God there- 
fore who looks into the heart judged between the two broth- 
ers, who alike brought their offering. He condemned Cain, 
not on account of the offerings themselves, as if they were less 
good than those of Abel, for if he had offered even a nutshell 
in faith, it would have been accepted of God, but because his 
person was evil, without faith and filled with pride and arro- 
gance. While, on the contrary, God had respect unto the offer- 
ing of Abel, because his person pleased him. Hence it is that 
the text so clearly and particularly expresses it, that the Lord 
had respect first to Abel, and afterwards to his offering. For, 
when the person first pleases you, then also the things which 
that person does please you. But, on the contrary, all things are 
unpleasing to you, which that person does whom you hate. 

The passage before us therefore is remarkable and import- 
ant; for it is thereby clearly proved that God regards neither 
the magnitude, nor the multitude, nor even the price of the 
works done ; but simply and only the faith of the person who 
does them. And that God despises neither the fewness, nor 
the meanness, nor the worthlessness of the works done, but 



the absence of faith only, in the person who does them. 

Of what avail is it therefore that the Jews glory and exclaim, 
"The Temple of the Lord ! The Temple of the Lord!" Jer. 74. 
What avails it that the Papists boast of their masses, their sack- 
cloth, their horse-hair blankets, their hard labors, their sweats, 
and the magnitude, the multitude and even the price of their 
works? For God regardeth not works, not even those com- 
manded by himself, when they are not done as the passage of 
Jeremiah just mentioned shows. Much less does God regard 
those works which are invented of men without his Word. He 
regards faith alone ; that is, a trust in his mercy through Christ. 
It is by this faith and this trust that the persons begin to please 
God; then after this their works also please him. Hence it 
was that the offering of Cain did not please God, because Cain 
having no faith did not please him. On the contrary, the offer- 
ing of Abel did please God and that because of his faith ; be- 
cause he trusted neither in his dignity, nor in his sacrifices 
themselves, nor in the work which he performed; but trusted 
alone in the promise given of God concerning the Seed of the 

The text before us therefore exactly applies to our doctrine 
concerning justification, that a man must be righteous before 
all works and be accepted of God without any works, through 
that grace alone which his faith believes and apprehends. Nor 
does even faith justify, as a work, but because it apprehends 
the mercy shown forth in Christ. It is in this trust in the 
mercy of God that the true Church walks, with a humble con- 
fession of her sins and unworthiness, while she believes that 
God will pardon her through Christ, 

And now the works which follow upon this trust in God's 
mercy are as it were evidences and testimonies of the man's 
faith; and they please God, not on account of themselves, but 
on account of the faith of the person who offers them ; or be- 
cause he believes in the mercy of God toward him. This faith 
the other church, the Cainite church, not only has not, but 
ever persecutes it where she finds it. For she on the contrary, 



like Cain, sets it down for a certainty that she shall please God 
on account of her works. But God hates this pride; for he 
can not endure such contempt of his grace and mercy, etc. Inis 
passage of Scripture therefore is worthy our most careful con- 

I. V. 5b. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance 


This and the few following clauses will give us a little gram- 
matical trouble. But I hope we shall make our way out of the 
difficulty successfully. We have heard that Cain was disap- 
pointed in his hope. He had despised his brother in compari- 
son with himself, and had judged that on account of the right 
of his primogeniture he should hold the first place with God 
as he had done with his parents. The judgment of God how- 
ever was quite different from that of men. He showed that 
he approved Abel, but rejected Cain. 

The result was therefore that Cain was violently enraged 
against his brother. For he could not endure with any patience 
that he should be thus rejected and excommunicated, and 
deprived also at the same time of his rule and priesthood. Just 
in the same manner also we see kings and princes to be utterly 
impatient of the judgment of the Church. For they are not 
satisfied with being kings and princes, they want to be ac- 
counted also righteous and saints before God; and they will 
take to themselves the name of "the Church." Exactly hke 
these Cain was filled with indignation when he saw that the 
honor of righteousness and grace before God was taken from 
him For what else was this than being cast out of the Church 
and excommunicated? And his indignation at this dishonor 
was the greater in proportion to the measure in which he 
judged himself degraded beneath his brother. For his thoughts 
were these ■ "My brother will assuredly aspire to the headship 

39 2 


and rule, since he sees me thus despised and disregarded of 
God." And hence it is that Moses uses the adverb "very 
wroth," by which form of expression he would signify that 
Cain was vehemently offended because he was thus ignomin- 
iously confounded in public before his whole family; whereas 
lie had always wished to appear the first among them. 

This Cain-like wrath is just that rage which we see also in 
the Cain-like Church of the pope. For what is there which 
gives the pope, the cardinals, the kings and the princes greater 
offense than that I, a poor beggar, set the authority of God 
above the authority of them all, and that I condemn in the 
name of the Lord all those things which are worthy such con- 
demnation. They themselves also acknowledge that there are 
many things which need rigid reformation. But that I, a poor, 
obscure person, coming into public out of some obscure corner, 
should presume to do this, is a thing which they consider to be 
beyond all endurance. And therefore they put forth all their 
authority against me and by the weight of that authority they 
attempt to crush us. 

And most certainly there is not in the whole world a wrath 
more cruel than that of this Church of hypocrisy and blood. 
For in all political or civil rage there is some degree of human- 
ity still left. No assassin is led to execution, however savage 
his nature may be, with pity for whom men are not in some 
measure touched. But when that false and blood-thirsting 
Church falls upon a poor son of the true Church, she is not 
satisfied with shedding his blood; she loads him also with her 
curses and execrations, and devotes him to every ignominy and 
insult, and even vents her rage upon his miserable, breathless 
corpse. Just like the Jews, who were not content with having 
nailed Christ to the cross, with the full purpose of not taking 
him down till he was dead, but even while he was breathing out 
the last breath of his soul they gave him in his thirst vinegar 
to drink mingled with gall. Such fury as this is never found 
in political wrath ! 

The wrath therefore and the pharasaic fury of the false 



Church is a fury in its very nature diabolical. This wrath be- 
gan in Cain, and it continues in all Cainites to this very day. 
And we can most truly glory that we also have to endure with 
godly Abel, just such wrath as this in our day. For who en- 
tertains a doubt, that if our bishops and certain furious princes 
could do it, they would slaughter us all in one moment? Who 
doubts that, if according to the prayers of the notorious Roman 
emperor, we all together had but one neck, they would with 
the greatest delight rush upon us sword in hand and cut off 
our head? Only look at the councils of these later years and 
their designs, and you will say that my testimony is true. 

That which Moses adds, "And his countenance (vultus) 
'appearances,' 'looks,' 'whole aspect,' fell," is a Hebrew ex- 
pression; an expression which not only represents the deed 
done, or the fact, but also implies that the mind also was in such 
a state of commotion that it could not rest ; and that although 
Cain could do no further harm, yet his wrathful will to do so 
was manifested by his countenance. He did not lift up his 
fallen brow nor speak in a friendly voice to his parents as before. 
And every answer he made them was rather a sullen murmur 
than a natural utterance. He was struck pale at the first sight 
of his brother after his offering, which God had accepted. And 
he showed by the threatening looks of his eyes that his mind 
was burning with the desire of revenge. 

Moses expresses all this, when he says, "And his countenance 
fell ;" for he does not mean his countenance or visage only, nor 
merely one part of his countenance ; but he intends all his ap- 
pearances, his whole appearance; his every look, gesture and 
motion ; in the same manner as the apostle uses a Hebrew ex- 
pression, when he says concerning charity that it "doth not be- 
have itself unseemly ;" that is, doth not carry an unseemly coun- 
tenance, doth not contract its brow, doth not look witli anger 
or disdain, doth not wear a threatening aspect ; but is of a free 
and open visage, expressing with its eyes kindness and affection. 
For the latter are becoming, but the former are unbecoming and 
indicative of vice within. This clause therefore, "And his 



countenance fell," contains a particular description of the anger 
and hypocrisy of Cain. He could neither look at his brother 
Abel, nor hear his voice, nor speak to him, nor eat nor drink 
with him in rest or quietude of mind. 

If any one desires to witness an example of this Cain-like 
wrath, let him put himself in the presence of some Papist, who 
is seeking distinguished praise for doctrine or piety in his day 
and generation ; and he will find that such an one is the subject 
of a rage against the truth, perfectly diabolical ; to which fury, 
if you compare the anger of a judge, the latter will appear in 
comparison to be the greatest kindness, mercy and open candor. 
For in the judge anger is merely a duty; he is not angry with 
the person of the prisoner, but with his crime. But the Cainite 
wrath fires and distorts the eyes, scowls the brow, swells the 
cheeks with rage, and arms the hands. In a word, it is evident 
in every part of the body and in its every gesture, and that un- 
ceasingly. For it does not die away by time, as political or 
domestic wrath does. 

Next follows the fatherly and most grave admonition of 
Adam, who would willingly have healed and saved his son if he 
could have done so. But this wrath knows no medicine or cure. 
Neither Cain nor any Cainite will hear either father or mother, 
or God Himself ! 

V. 6. And Jehovah said unto Cam, Why art thou ■wroth, 
and why is thy countenance fallen? 

All these circumstances plainly prove that the present was 
not the first time that Cain had been confounded in this offering 
of his sacrifice ; but that from the hour of this sacrifice he had 
gone in perturbation of mind, filled with sadness and gnashing 
his teeth ; and looking neither upon his father nor upon his 
mother without an evil eye ; affected just as we have already said 
that pharasaic rage affects the whole man, and changes the 
whole visage and gesture. For Cain considered it to be a great 
indignity that at a public sacrifice, and in the midst of divine 
worship, and before the eyes of his father and his mother, Abel 
whom he had always despised and whom even his parents them- 



selves had accounted a child of naught, should be preferred of 
God to himself; and thus pronounced of God worthy the glory 
of the kingship and the priesthood. 

II. As soon therefore as he had fully shown that he was of 
a hostile mind towards his brother, he receives from his father 
Adam the admonition in our text. For my belief is, that these 
words are spoken by Adam himself, and that Moses says they 
were spoken "by the Lord," because Adam had now been justi- 
fied and had been gifted with the Holy Spirit; and therefore 
those things which he now spoke by the Holy Spirit according 
to the Word of God are rightly said by Moses to have been 
spoken by God himself. Just as at the present day those who 
preach the Gospel are not in reality themselves the preachers 
and teachers, but Christ, who speaks and teaches in them and 
by them. And most certainly these words are spoken by Adam 
with peculiar gravity and intent ; for he saw that his son could 
not patiently endure the indignity put upon him ; he saw him 
grieve over his lost superiority ; and he felt what havoc the 
Tempter might make in the corrupt nature of his son, who had 
done such evil to himself and Eve, when in a state of innocency 
and perfection. Adam therefore was filled with deep anxiety 
and addressed his son with that solemn gravity of language, 
which Moses records in the text. And although no one of the 
fathers has explained that speech of Adam to his son Cain in a 
manner worthy its gravity and importance ; because perhaps 
none of them had sufficient leisure from their ecclesiastical en- 
gagements ; yet I will attempt to move this stone of difficulty 
out of the way ; and, as I hope and think, not without some ad- 
vantage to the truth. 

V. 7a. If thou doest well, sliall it not be lifted up, (sliall there 
not be a remission,) and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth 
(lieth) at the door. 

I cannot sufficiently wonder how Moses was able to condense 
so mighty a subject in so few words. Our translation does not 
properly express the sense. And although Augustine was not 
altogether unacquainted with the Hebrew language, yet his 



knowledge of it was not thorough ; for he renders this important 
text thus, "If thou offerest aright, and yet dost not rightly di- 
vide the offering, thou hast sinned. Rest, and be quiet." What 
such sins are those well acquainted with the Hebrew know. 
Though the doctrine which Augustine deduces from his render- 
ing of the passage is theologically correct and good, the Sep- 
tuagint translators of the Hebrew seem also not to have been 
duly qualified for the magnitude of the work they undertook. 
Wherefore, leaving for the present both the translations and the 
opinions of all other commentators, we will now strictly follow 
the proper sense of the Hebrew in the text before us. That 
sense is the following, "If thou doest well, there shall be remis- 
sion, or alleviation ; if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door," 

Moreover it is ordained by nature, as even the philosopher 
.testifies, that words should be made to serve things, and not 
things made subservient to words. The sentiment of Hilary is 
well known, which a certain master of sound opinions also thus 
cites: "Words ought ever to be understood according to the 
matter contained in them, and intended to be expressed by 
them." In every exposition or explanation of the Scriptures 
therefore the subject-matter is first to be considered ; that is, we 
are first clearly to sec the thing spoken of in each case. When 
this is strictly done, then the words are to be brought to a due 
application to the thing, if the grammatical laws of the lan- 
guage will permit ; but the things are never to be made to bend 
to the words. And it is because the Rabbins and those who 
follow them do not this, foT they have lost the things, and so 
cleave hard to the words only, that they often fall into the most 
absurd sentiments and opinions. For, as they possess not 
thoughts worthy of those spiritual things, of which the sacred 
Scriptures speak, they err from the subject-matter treated in 
each case by the Word and draw the words after them into vain 
and carnal cogitations. 

But it is certain that the Jews have lost Christ ; how then can 
they possibly understand aright either the things of the Gospel 



or the things- of the Law? They know not what sin is, nor 
what grace is, nor what righteousness is. How then should 
they be able to explain successfully such passages of the Scrip- 
tures? Just so the Jews are in general the "wise" or sophists 
of our day. For what sound knowledge have they of such di- 
vine and mighty things as these ! Being ignorant therefore of 
the thing itself, how is it possible that they should rightly un- 
derstand the words of the Scriptures in which it is expressed? 
And although a knowledge of the words is prior in order ; yet 
the knowledge of the things is better and more important. For 
if you alter the things, the words also will be changed into an- 
other sense to correspond with the altered things, and a new 
grammatical construction altogether is the sure result. 

Thus the great grammarian of Gerunda possesses an excel- 
lent knowledge of the words, and indeed there are many in our 
day who far surpass me in a critical knowledge of the Hebrew 
language, but because he understands not the divine theme, he 
miserably corrupts this passage ; for he explains it thus : "If 
thou doest well thy offering shall be more acceptable than that 
of thy brother, because thou art the first-born." You here see 
that Gerundensis understands what the names of the things 
are, but not the things themselves ; what the term is, but not 
what the matter is. For the very design of God in this text 
is to show that he will have no regard to first birthship at all. 
How then could the offering of Cain ever have been more ac- 
ceptable to God than that of Abel on account of his primogeni- 
ture? The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews knew what 
the thing was, and therefore he gives a very different state- 
ment of the sacred matter, namely, that it was "by faith that 
Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." The ren- 
dering of Jerome is much better than that of Gerundensis. The 
version of the former is, "If thou doest well, thou shalt receive ; 
if thou doest ill, sin (he adds the pronoun "thine own sin") will 
He at the door." Yet, even thus Jerome does not reach the true 
sense. For when he explains the verb seeth as meaning "to 
receive," which really signifies "to relieve," or "to alleviate," 



no one I think will approve his rendering. But all this Jerome 
has from the Jews, who have always been of the opinion that 
God would have rewarded Cain if he had offered liberally. 
Now therefore I will simply state what my view of this im- 
portant passage is. 

First of all then it is necessary, as I have said, that we hold 
fast the divine matter in question. The divine matter then 
involved is that which cannot deceive, as being the foundation 
of the whole divine cause, that nothing pleases God unless it 
be done in faith, according to that universally applicable and 
well known sentence of the Apostle Paul, "Whatsoever is not 
of faith is sin," Rom. 14:23. And Solomon also says, "The 
sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord," Prov. 
15 :8. The other great foundation of the cause of God is, that 
sin is so mighty that it can be put away by no sacrifices, nor 
by any works whatever, but by the mercy of God alone, which 
mercy must be apprehended and received by faith. And all 
this is manifested and shown to have been the good pleasure 
of God by the first promise concerning the Seed of the woman, 
without which Seed there is no redemption. Now these foun- 
dations the Rabbins possess not, for this knowledge comes by 
the Spirit of Christ alone, who like the mid-sun illumines all 
the darkness of nature and sin. Whatsoever therefore mili- 
tates against, or is contrary to, these foundations, we at once 
reject as false and impious. 

And although for myself I have no objection whether you 
understand "sin" here as referring to the past sin, or to the 
future sin of Cain, yet it seems to me better to understand it 
as referring to sin in general. The force of the whole passage 
therefore lies in the Hebrew verb seeth from nasa, "be alle- 
viated," or "lifted up," or "relieved." And in this Very case 
we have a remarkable example of the difference between the 
name or term of the tiling and the thing itself. For if you apply 
the term to "lift up," or to "lift off," to a corporeal or solid 
substance, it signifies "to elevate" or "to lift up on high ;" as in 
Isaiah, "I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and 



lifted up," Is. 6:1. But this is a very different signification of 
the Hebrew verb from that which it expresses in the Psalm, 
"Blessed is the man whose sins are 'lifted up' or 'lifted out,' " 
Ps. 32 :i, and yet the Hebrew verb is the same in each instance. 
Now, a common grammarian of the Hebrew language under- 
stands the former meaning of the original verb, but he is ignor- 
ant of its latter signification. For, "to lift up a throne on high," 
is quite another thing from lifting up or lifting off, sin from the 
conscience ; that is, remitting or taking away sin. 

Wherefore, the meaning is, "If thou hadst done well or if 
thou hadst been good; that is, if thou hadst believed, thou 
wouldst have had God favorable and merciful toward thee, and 
there would have been a true alleviation to thee ; that is, a re- 
mission of sin. But since I see that God had not respect unto 
thee, it evidently follows that thou wert not good in his sight ; 
and that therefore thou wast not relieved from thy sin ; where- 
fore, thy sin remaineth." 

However it is a most beautiful and striking similitude to 
make use of the verb "to lift up" or "to lift off" in order to 
compare sin to a heavy burden, under which Cain was so op- 
pressed and prostrated, so that unless it were taken off he could 
not draw his breath. And the epistle to the Hebrews shows 
the manner in which we are released from this burden, when it 
says, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice 
than Cain," Heb. 11:4. 

By this mode of interpreting this important passage the 
words or the grammatical construction perfectly agree with the 
matter contained in them, which is, that God has respect unto 
faith only, and judges those alone to be good who believe. And 
these words of Adam contain also a most severe rebuke. Their 
meaning is, as if Adam had said to Cain, "Thy pride has de- 
stroyed thee. Thou earnest before God inflated with the glory 
of thy primogeniture, and thoughtest that God would accept 
thee on that account. But I clearly perceive by this judgment 
and reprobation of God that thou art destitute of faith, for God 
rejects none but the unbelieving." 



Not one of the Rabbins explains the passage before us in this 
manner. For they see not that Adam is here inculcating in his 
son, after the manner of the Apostle Paul, that word of Christ 
in the Gospel, "He that believeth shall be saved," Mark 16:16; 
and also that word of the apostle himself, "Therefore we con- 
clude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the 
law," Rom. 3 128, For what else does Adam here say to Cain, 
than that God is merciful to those who believe in the blessed 
Seed, and -who cast away all trust in their own works, and all 
ideas of their own merit? For his meaning is, "If thou shalt 
do this, thy sin shall not lie thus as a heavy burden upon thee. 
Thou shalt be relieved of that load, nor shalt thou thus roar 
with rage; for God has promised that he will not impute sin to 
any one that believeth." 

If therefore you refer these words to the past sin of Cain, 
they contain also a most grave fatherly admonition. Their im- 
port is, as if Adam had said, "Hitherto thou hast not believed 
and therefore thou art thus rejected; and if thou shalt still go 
on thus, thou wilt be cast off utterly. But if thou shalt do well 
or become good, that is, if thou shalt believe in the promised 
Seed, I take upon myself to assure thee that the result will be 
that thou shalt be relieved of thy burden of sin ;" that is, as the 
Psalm interprets this expression of Adam, "sin shall not be im- 
puted unto thee," Ps. 32 :2. 

The clause which follows, thy "sin lieth at the door," is a 
figurative description of sin, which for my part I should prefer 
understanding as being used as a proverb. For this figure 
exactly describes the real nature of sin, showing that, while in 
the act, it lies like a beast dead asleep; it does not bite, nor 
terrify, nor torment, but rather fawns and pleases. Thus when 
Eve first and afterwards Adam ate the forbidden apple in 
paradise they did not think that God had seen it, much less did 
they think that both should be so bitterly punished for what 
they had done. So also ferocious beasts, when they are just 
satisfied with food, are more tractable and more inclined to 
sleep than to harm. In the same manner also sin, while it is in 



the act, is delightful, nor is its poison or pain felt; it rather lies 
down and goes to sleep. For whoever saw a miser to be racked 
with pain while an opportunity of great gain stood before him ? 
Whoever knew an adulterer to grieve at the opportunity given 
him of gratifying his wishes? If thou hadst at that moment 
torn his skin with a scourge, or beaten his head with a mallet, 
the temptation would have vanished. But while sin is asleep 
and its punishment unfelt and unseen, it is the height of pleas- 
ure to the miser to rush upon his gain, and to the adulterer to 
possess the object of his sinful desires; nor does there seem to 
be, nor does he wish for, any end or any bound to his pleasure. 
Adam is speaking therefore in this passage not only of the 
sin of Cain, but of sin in general ; showing what the real nature 
of sin is. For that which was the state of Cain is the state of 
all men. Before he offered his sacrifice Cain proudly boasted 
of the privileges of his primogeniture ; he despised his brother 
and assumed to himself the first place in all things. Sin was 
then lying still and asleep; but it was "lying at the door;" that 
is, in a place or state in which it was likely to be disturbed. For 
it is by "the door" that we go in and out, and therefore a place 
by no means adapted for a long sleep. And this is also the 
very nature of sin. Although it does lie asleep, yet it lies in a 
place where it is not likely to sleep long, for Christ says, "There 
is nothing covered that shall not be revealed," Math. 10:26. 
The wicked man thinks indeed that his sin is asleep and hidden ; 
but it lieth asleep at "the door," and at length it is awakened 
by conviction, brought to light, and made known : for "at the 
door," and rest and sleep are things directly opposed to each 
other. For as darkness is opposite to light, so is sleep to an 
unquiet place; they are things contradictory to each other in 
their very nature. In this manner therefore may the present 
passage be interpreted in its reference to Cain's past sin. 

And if you explain these same words in their reference to the 
future sin of Cain, their meaning is this, "If thou shalt harm 
thy brother, and indulge the wrath conceived in thy mind, I tell 
thee that thy sin will indeed lie asleep ; but it will lie asleep at 



the door; that is, in a place where it will surely be disturbed; 
and therefore, it is impossible but that it must be awoke and 
roused up, when as a furious beast it will lay hold upon thee." 
And so the event proved. For after Cain had committed the 
murder, wbile he was burying his brother alone, his sin was 
asleep. But how long? No longer than until the sound of 
that voice of God reached his ears, "Where is Abel, thy broth- 
er?" The present words of Adam therefore are a true descrip- 
tion of all sin. It always "lieth at the door." For such is the 
nature of the minds of men, that as long as they escape the eyes 
of men, they think their sin will lie hidden and unknown. But 
unless they do well ; that is, unless they believe that God will 
pardon their sin through Christ, it will surely be awakened and 
revealed to their torment and destruction. 

The figurative proverb therefore which lies in these words of 
Adam contains the most solemn truth, that nothing remains 
hidden, but that all things are revealed and made known, as the 
Apostle Paul also says, "Some men's sins are evident, going be- 
fore unto judgment," i Tim. 5 =24. Hence we see the judgment 
of God in an especial manner in the cases of criminals. How 
many persons are murdered in secret and yet the authors of 
those unnatural and horrible crimes are brought to light by 
means the most wonderful. The grave admonition therefore 
of Adam to his son Cain is that he would guard against in- 
dulging in sin, resting fully assured that it would not remain 
hidden, but that God would certainly bring it to light and pun- 
ish it. The poets of old did not wander far from this great 
truth when they represented Cupid, the god of lustful desire, 
naked but blind also. For as our sin seems to us to be hidden, 
we think that it is hidden from all others also. But God at 
length brings to light and reveals things the most deeply con- 

I believe therefore the meaning of these words of Adam, 
which I have thus given, is their true and simple sense. By 
them the father is admonishing the son to believe in God and 
in the promised Seed ; assuring him that if he does so, God will 



show himself merciful unto him. But, says the father, if thou 
follow the lusts of thy heart, thy sin will indeed lie at rest in thy 
soul ; that is, it will appear to thee to be concealed and hidden, 
but it will be lying all the time "at the door ;" that is, in a place 
where it cannot lie long asleep or out of sight. For that which 
"lieth at the door" is beheld by all who enter in and by all who 
go out. 

Let us not forget however, as I before observed, the grand 
and principal truth taught by this portion of the Holy Scrip- 
tures, that God from the very beginning of the world is One 
who judgeth between the flesh and the spirit, and who respect- 
eth not the dignity of the person or his works. For God hath 
here respect unto Abel, not moved by any work which he per- 
formed, but simply by his faith in which he offered his sacrifice. 
But unto Cain God had not respect ; not because the offering of 
Cain was less splendid or sumptuous than that of Abel, but be- 
cause he had not faith, and therefor his primogeniture profited 
him nothing. 

And this is a very powerful argument against the Jews, who, 
as John tells us, gloried in their race and descent, boasting thai 
they were the children of Abraham, John 8:33. If therefore 
the honor and prerogative were anything in God's sight, Cain 
certainly had wherein to glory. And what avails also the glory- 
ing of the Jews that God spoke unto them by Moses? Are we 
to conclude, think you, that Adam, the first teacher, was a teach- 
er less than Moses? No! Adam was greater than Moses and 
superior to him in many respects. He did not teach like Moses 
circumcision, nor the other legal ceremonies, which were neces- 
sary to a stiff-necked people to prevent them from superstition, 
but Adam taught faith in the promised Seed, which should 
bruise the serpent's head. All the primogeniture of Cain there- 
fore and all his other privileges and his works profited him 
nothing; for God had respect only to faith in the promised Seed. 
Hence it is that Paul plainly says to the Jews in the New Testa- 
ment, "Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same arc 
the children of Abraham," Gal. 3:7. And Evangelist John 



says the same things concerning the Jewish people, "But as 
many as received him, to them gave he power to become the 
children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who 
were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the 
will of man, but of God," John i :i2, 13. 

I believe therefore that the above interpretation of the words 
of Adam is their original and true meaning. For, first of all, 
it is in perfect accord with the fundamental truth of the holy 
Scripture and with the sacred matter itself spoken of. And 
secondly, it docs not violate any law of grammar, and it more- 
over tends to illustrate beautifully and variously by its figures 
the divine things contained in the words used by Adam. But 
the Rabbins, being ignorant of the things spoken of by Adam, 
are not at all helped out of the difficulty by all their knowledge 
of the terms employed in the patriarch's speech. How absurd 
for instance is the opinion of some, who apply the expression, 
There shall be a "lifting up" to the "fallen countenance" of 
Cain. As if Adam had said, "Then thou shalt be able again 
to lift up thy countenance, which is now wholly changed and 
fallen." These absurdities are indeed properly noticed by all 
our more recent commentators, to whom also our thanks are 
due, for their faithful labor in translating the original text 
grammatically. But true theology is indispensable, which alone 
can rightly judge of and rightly teach the things spoken of in 
the Holy Scripture. 

V. 7b. And unto thee shall be its desire, but do thou rule 
over it. 

Some men have most absurdly wrested this passage to prove 
by it free will. But it is perfectly evident that Adam does not 
here really affirm that Cain could do what he advised him to do. 
He is only admonishing or entreating him to do it. For it by 
no means follows that we can do what we are commanded to do. 
"The desire of sin," Adam here says to Cain, "shall be toward 
thee ;" that is, as Paul expresses it, "Sin is in thy members," 
Rom. 7:5. Again, "The flesh lusteth against the spirit," Gal. 
5:17. "But thou shalt not be eternally condemned, because thou 



feelest this motion of sin in thy members. If sin entice thee, 
do thou rule over it by faith. Suffer it not to-rule over thee, or 
thou shalt perish for ever." Likewise Paul commands in Rom. 
8:13, "By the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body." 

This part of Adam's speech therefore is intended to bring us 
to acknowledge what the life of the godly in the flesh is : name- 
ly, that it is a perpetual struggle of the spirit against sin. Those 
therefore who sleep and snore, and prepare themselves not for 
this fight, are easily vanquished. Adam however appears to 
wish, by this his speech not only to admonish his son to 
guard against sin in the future, but also to comfort and lift him 
up from his distress on account of the past ; for he beholds his 
son both filled with anguish on account of the divine rejection 
and now also tempted to revenge. But says Adam to his son, 
"Rule over thy sin, and thou shalt find God merciful. Believe 
in him, and he will pardon thy sin." 

The Hebrew verb in this passage is maschal; the same as 

that which the Lord used above when he said unto the woman, 

3 :i6, "And thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule 

over thee." In these words the meaning of the Lord is, that 

the wife should obey the husband and listen to her husband, 

and that she should not take upon herself the judgment in all 

things ; and that if she did so, the husband in his authority as 

the man, should rebuke and prevent her. It is in the same 

manner that Adam here speaks to Cain, saying to him, "Sin will 

entice thee and prompt thee to revenge." This is the father's 

meaning, when he says, "And its desire shall be toward thee ; 

but do thou say unto sin, I will not obey thee. Refrain thyself 

and rule over it." These words of Adam therefore contain an 

admonition full of consolation, showing that on account of the 

blessed Seed we are no longer under sin, and that therefore 

we ought to rule over it. For Adam's speech embraces both 

doctrines ; the doctrine of the fear of the Lord and the doctrine 

of faith. We ought to fear God, because "sin lieth at the 

door," and we ought to have faith in God because he is 







I. V. 8a. And Cain told {talked with) Abel his brother. 

Our translation has it, "And Cain said to Abel, his brother, 
adding the words, "Let us go out doors." But this is one 
of the inventions of the Rabbins, to whom how much credit is 
to be given, I have fully shown. Lyra, following the invention 
of Eben Ezra, relates that Cain told his brother how severely 
he had been rebuked of the Lord. But who would believe that 
for which there is no authority in the Scriptures? We hold 
therefore to that meaning of the text which the Scriptures plain- 
ly show to be its true sense, that Cain, being reprobated or re- 
jected of God, indulged his wrath, and that he now added to his 
former sins, contempt of his parents and of the Word, thinking 
thus within himself, "The promised Seed of the woman belongs 
to me as the first-born. But my brother, Abel, that contempti- 
ble one and that one of naught, is evidently preferred to me 
by the divine authority itself, manifested by the fire from heav- 
en consuming his sacrifice. What shall I do, therefore? I 
will dissemble my wrath until an opportunity of taking ven- 
geance shall occur." 

The words therefore, "And Cain spoke to Abel his brother," 
I understand as meaning that Cain, dissembling his anger, con- 
ducted himself toward Abel as toward a brother, and that he 
spoke to him and conversed with him, as if he bore with a quiet 
mind the divine rejection he had just experienced, and the sen- 
tence of God thus pronounced against him. It was in this 
manner also that Saul dissembled his wrath, who likewise pre- 
tended a benevolent mind and good-will toward David. "I 
know well," said Saul, "that thou shalt surely be king," i Sam. 
24:20; and yet he was all the while thinking of the way in 
which, having killed David, he might prevent his being king. 
Just 111 the same way did Cain now converse in dissimulation 
with Abel his brother, saying to him, I see that thou art chosen 



of the Lord. I envy thee not this divine blessing, etc., etc. 
This is the very manner of hypocrites. They pretend friend- 
ship until an opportunity of doing the harm they intend pre- 
sents itself. 

That such is the true sense of the passage all the circum- 
stances clearly show. For if Adam and Eve could have gath- 
ered the least suspicion of the intended murder, think you not 
that they would either have restrained Cain or removed Abel, 
and placed the latter out of danger? But as Cain had altered 
his countenance and his carriage toward his brother, and had 
talked with him in a brotherly manner they thought all was 
safe, and the son had bowed to and acquiesced in the admoni- 
tion of his father. This outward appearance and carriage de- 
ceived Abel also, who, if he had feared anything like murder 
from his brother, would doubtless have fled from him, as Jacob 
fled from Esau when he feared his brother's wrath. What 
therefore could possibly have come into the mind of Jerome, 
when he believed the Rabbins, who say that Cain was here ex- 
postulating with his brother? 

Wherefore Cain is here the image and the picture of all hypo- 
crites and murderers, who under the show of godliness 
slaughter the good. For Cain thus being besieged by Satan 
covers his wrath, waiting the opportunity to slay his brother 
Abel; meanwhile he converses with him, as a brother beloved, 
that he might the sooner lay his hands upon him unawares. 

This passage therefore is intended for our instruction ; that 
we may learn to understand the ways of murderers and hypo- 
crites. For thus it truly always comes to pass that every Cam 
talks with his brother, as Cain of old talked brotherly with 
Abel ; and on the other hand also, every Abel trusts in every 
Cain, as a brother would trust a brother ; and thus he is mur- 
dered, and the pious parents meanwhile are deceived. 

Just so the Pope and the bishops of this day talk and con- 
sult much concerning the peace and the concord of the Church. 
But he is most assuredly deceived who does not understand all 
these councils directly the contrary. For true is that word of 



the Psalm, "The workers of iniquity speak peace to their 
neighbors, but mischief is in their hearts," Ps. 28 13. For the 
very nature of all hypocrites is, that they carry an appearance 
of goodness, speak friendly to you, pretend humility, patience, 
and charity, and give alms, etc. j and yet. they are all the while 
planning slaughter in their heart. 

Let us learn therefore by this history to know a Cain, and to 
guard best against him when he speaks the most friendly, and 
as a brother to a brother. For it is in this way that our ad- 
versaries, the bishops and the Pope, talk with us in our day, 
while they pretend a desire for concord and peace, and seek 
reconciliation of doctrines ; whereas if an opportunity of seiz- 
ing us and executing their rage upon us should present itself, 
you would soon hear them speak in a very different tone. For 
all the time there is death in the pot, 2 Kings 4 40 ; and under 
the best and sweetest words there lies concealed a deadly 

V. 8b. And it came to pass, when they were in the Held, 
that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. 

Here then you see the deceptiveness under the above dissem- 
bled conversation of Cain with his brother. Cain had been 
admonished by his father with divine authority to guard 
against sin in the future and to expect pardon for the past 
through the promised Seed. But Cain despises both admoni- 
tions and indulges in his sin, as all the wicked do. For true is 
the saying of Solomon, "When the wicked cometh, there com- 
eth also contempt, and with ignominy cometh reproach," 
Prov. 18:3. 

Just in the same manner our ministry of the Word at the 
present day deserve:, no blame. We teach, we exhort, we re- 
buke, we turn ourselves every way, that we may recall the mul- 
titude from the security of sin to the fear of God. But the 
world, like an untamed beast, still goes on and follows not the 
Word, but its own lusts, which it strives to palliate under the 
appearance of what is honest and right. The prophets and 
the apostles also stand before us as examples of the same labor 



in vain, and we also are taught the same by our own experi- 
ence. Our adversaries being so often admonish -d and con- 
victed know they are doing wrong, and yet they lay not aside 
their murderous hatred against us. 

From the case of Cain therefore learn what a hypocrite is ; 
namely, one who pretends to the worship of God and charity, 
and yet at the very same time destroys the worship of God and 
slaughters his brother. And all this semblance of good-will is 
only intended to create the better opportunities of doing the 
harm designed. For if Abel had foreseen the implacable 
wrath and the truly diabolical fury of his brother, he might 
have saved his life by flight. But as Cain betrayed nothing 
of this kind while he talked with his brother in seeming affec- 
tion and put on the appearance of his usual good- will, Abel 
perished before he felt the fear of danger. 

There is no doubt that Abel, when he saw his brother rising 
up against him, entreated and implored him not to pollute him- 
self with this awful sin. But a mind thus beset by sin pays 
no regard to prayers, nor heeds uplifted hands. Just as Cain 
therefore had despised the admonition of his father ; so now 
also he equally despises his brother, fallen on his knees before 

These things instruct us in that cruel tyranny of Satan, under 
which our nature when involved in sins is bound. Hence Paul 
calls such, "The children of wrath," Eph. 2:3; and declares 
that such are "taken captive by Satan at his will," 2 Tim. 2 :26. 
For when we are mere men ; that is, when we apprehend not 
the blessed Seed by faith, we are all like Cain, and nothing is 
wanting but an opportunity to murder our brother. For na- 
ture, destitute of the Holy Spirit, is driven by that same evil 
spirit by which Cain was driven to murder. Whereas if there 
were in any one those sufficient powers or that free-will ot 
which men talk, by which a man might defend himself against 
the assaults of Satan, these gifts of nature would most as- 
suredly have existed in Cain, to whom belonged the first birth- 
right and the promise of the blessed Seed. But it was not so. 



And the condition of all men is the same. Unless nature be 
helped by the Spirit of God, it cannot uphold itself nor stand. 
Then why do we vainly and absurdly boast of free-will ? Now 
follows another remarkable passage. 

II. V. 9. And Jehovah said unto Cam, Where is Abel thy 
brother? And he said, I know not : Am I my brother's keeper? 
Good God! into what depth of sin does our miserable na- 
ture fall, when driven onward by the devil. At last murder, 
was committed on a brother. And perhaps murdered Abel lay 
for days unburied. When therefore Cain returned to his 
parents at the accustomed time, and Abel returned not with 
him, the anxious parents said to him, Cain, thou art here, but 
where is Abel ? Thou art returned home, but Abel is not re- 
turned. The flock is without their shepherd. Tell us there- 
fore where thy brother is ? Upon this, Cain, growing indig- 
nant, makes answer to his parents, by no means with due rev- 
erence, "I know not : Am I my brother's keeper?" 

But it happened to Cain as to all the wicked, that by reus- 
ing he accused himself. Agreeably also to the words of Christ 
our Lord, "From thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou 
wicked servant," Math. 18:32. The heathen had also a strik- 
ing proverb among them, "A liar ought to have a good mem- 
ory." Such was the judgment of heathen men, though they 
knew nothing of the judgment of God and of conscience, and 
were capable of judgment and giving admonition concerning 
natural and civil things only. And true it is that liars expose 
themselves to many dangers of detection, and betray many 
facts, by which they may be convicted and refuted. Hence the 
Germans have this proverb, "A lie is a very fruitful thing." 
For one lie begets seven other lies, which become necessary to 
establish the first lie, and to make it wear the face of truth. 
And yet it is impossible after all to prevent conscience from 
betraying itself at times, if not in words then in countenance 
and gesture. This will be proved by numberless examples 
hereafter. I will cite one example here. 
In Thuringia there is a small town in the district of Orla, 


4 TI 

called Neustadt. In this town a harlot had murdered her in- 
fant, to which she had secretly given birth, and had thrown it, 
after the murder, into a neighboring fish-pond. By a singular 
occurrence a portion of the linen in which she had wrapped the 
infant brought the horrid deed to light, and the case was 
brought before the magistrate ; and as the simple men of the 
place knew no better means of investigating the crime in order 
to discover its author, they called all the young women of the 
town into the town-hall and closely examined them all, one by 
one. The judgment concerning all the rest was quite mani- 
fest, and it was evident that they were all innocent. But when 
they came to her who was the real perpetrator of the deed she 
did not wait for the questions to be put to her, but immediately 
declared aloud that she was not the guilty person. This declar- 
ation at once caused the magistrate to suspect that she really 
was the author of the deed, because she was more anxious 
than all the rest to clear herself from any suspicion. There- 
fore she was seized by the constables and forthwith suffered 

Indeed examples of the same kind are infinite and occur 
daily, showing that where persons are most anxious to creuse 
themselves, they most effectually accuse and betray themselves. 
So true is that word which we have just before heard that sin 
does indeed lie asleep and concealed, but it lies "at the door." 

Just so in the present case. Cain thinks that he has made 
an effectual excuse for himself, by saying that he was not his 
brother's keeper ; whereas, by the very mention of his brother's 
name, he at once confesses that he ought to have been his 
younger brother's keeper. And then again does he not, by the 
same admitted confession, that he ought to have been his broth- 
er's keeper, accuse himself of being of a hostile mmd towards 
his brother? And does he not moreover strike into the mind 
of his parents a surmise of the murder committed? For Abel 
nowhere appears and is not to be found. Just so also Adam 
excuses himself in paradise, and lays all the blame on Eve. 
But this excuse of Cain is far more idle and absurd ; for while 



he excuses his sin he doubles it. Whereas on the contrary, 
the free confession of sin finds mercy and appeases wrath. It 
is recorded in the history of St. Martin that when he was pro- 
nouncing - to some notorious sinners the pardon of their sins, he 
was rebuked b)' Satan, who asked him why he did so ; to whom 
St. Martin is said to have replied, "Why I would pronounce the 
pardon even of thy sins, if thou wouklst say from thy heart, 
I repent that I have sinned against the Son of God, and I pray 
to God to pardon me for the same." But the devil never does 
this. For he persists in and defends his sin. 

All liars and hypocrites imitate Cain their father in his lie, 
by either denying; their sin, or excusing it. Hence they can- 
not find pardon of their sins from God. And we see the same 
in domestic life. By the defense of wrong doing, anger is in- 
creased. For whenever the wife, or the children, or the ser- 
vants have done wrong, and deny or excuse their wrong doing, 
the father of the family is the more moved to wrath ; whereas, 
on the contrary, plain confession always meets pardon or a 
lighter punishment. But it is the very nature of hypocrites to 
excuse and palliate their sin, or to deny it altogether, and un- 
der the show of religion to slay the innocent. 

But here let us take a view of the manner in which sins follow 
each other and increase more and more. First of all Cain sins 
by presumption and unbelief. When priding himself on the 
privilege of his first birthright, he takes it for granted that he 
shall be accepted of God on the ground of his high merit as the 
eldest son. Upon this pride and this glory of self-righteous- 
ness immediately follow the envy and hatred of his brother, 
whom he sees preferred before himself by a certain sign from 
heaven. Upon this envy and hatred follow hypocrisy and ly- 
ing. He talks with his brother in dissembled affection, whom 
he all the while designs to murder, and whom by his affection- 
ate conversation he throws the more effectually off his guard. 
Upon this hypocrisy follows murder. Upon this murder fol- 
lows a lying excuse to cover his awful sin. And the last stage 
of the whole sin is despair and desperation • and this last step 
is the fall from heaven to hell ! 



And although Adam and Eve in paradise did not deny their 
sin, yet they confessed it quite coldly/and shifted it from the 
one to the other. Adam laid it on Eve, and Eve laid it on the 
serpent. But Cain went further than them both, for he not 
only did not confess the murder he had committed, but declared 
that he had nothing to do with the care of his brother. And 
did not this speech at once prove that his mind was in a state 
of hostility against his brother? Though therefore Adam and 
Eve confessed their sin with only half their hearts, yet they had 
some claim to pardon, and they were punished with less sever- 
ity accordingly. But Cain, because he denied his sin deter- 
minatery, was rejected, and fell into despair. 

And the same judgment awaits all our Cainite popes, cardin- 
als and bishops, who although they plan in their minds plots 
of murder against us, yet say like Cain their father, "I know 
not: Am I my brother's keeper?" 

There was a common proverb of old, "What is it to the 
Romans that the Greeks die?" So we think that our dangers 
and calamities only belong to ourselves. But how does this 
principle agree with the commandment of God? For his will 
is, that we should all live together, and be to each other as 
brethren? Cain therefore by this very saying of his heavily 
accuses himself when he makes the excuse that the custody of 
his brother was no matter of his. Whereas if he had said to 
his father, "Alas, my father, I have slain Abel, my brother. I 
repent of the deed I have done. Return upon me what pun- 
ishment thou wilt," Had he thus spoken, there might have 
been room for a remedy; but as he denied his sin and contrary 
to the will of God cast off the charge of his brother altogether, 
there was no place left for mercy or favor. 

Moreover Moses has arranged all this narrative thus particu- 
larly and remarkably on purpose that it might be a testimony 
and memorial of all hypocrites, that he might, by his peculiar 
manner of recording the solemn facts, graphically paint forth 
what hypocrites really are, and that he might show how aw- 
fully they are seized upon by Satan as his instruments, and ir.- 



flamed by him against God and against his Word and his 
Church. It was not enough for his murderer that he had killed 
his brother contrary to the command of God, but he adds to that 
sin the further sin that, when God inquires of him concerning 
his brother, he becomes filled with indignation and rage. I 
say when God inquires of hiin, because, although it was Adam 
who spoke these words to his son Cain, yet he spoke them by 
the authority of God and by the Holy Spirit. In so awful a 
sin therefore was it not a most kind and gentle manner of ex- 
pression to inquire, "Where is Abel thy brother?" And yet to 
this voice, which contained in it nothing severe, the hypocrite 
and the murderer grows so ferocious and proud that he replies, 
"I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?" And he is fired 
with indignation that he should be called to an account con- 
cerning the matter at all. For the reply of Cain is the reply of 
a spirit of resistance and indignation against God. 

But to this sin Cain adds a worse sin still. For when he 
ought to have fallen under this accusation of having committed 
the murder, he himself at once turns round and accuses God and 
expostulates with him : "Am I my brother's keeper ?" He pre- 
faces his reply with no expression of reverence or honor, though 
due both to God and to his father. He did not say, "Lord, I 
know not." He did not say, "My Father, didst thou make me 
the keeper of my brother?" Such expressions as these would 
have indicated feeling of reverence towards God or towards his 
parent. But he answers as being Lord himself and plainly 
manifests that he felt indignant at being called to account even 
by him who had the high right even to call him to that account. 

And this is a true picture of all hypocrites. When standing 
in the most manifest sins they grow full of insolence and pride, 
and aim all the while at appearing most righteous persons. 
They will not believe even God himself when rebuking them by 
his Word. Nay, they set themselves against God, contend with 
him and excuse their sin. Thus David says, "that God is 
judged of men, but that at length he clears and justifies him- 
self, and prevails," Ps. 51 14. This is that insolence of hypo- 
crites which Moses here paints. 



But how does this attempt of Cain succeed. Thus while he 
uses every means to excuse himself, he most powerfully ac- 
cuses himself. Thus Christ says, "Out of thine own mouth 
will I judge thee, thou wicked servant," Luke 19:22. Now, 
this servant wished to appear without guilt, saying, "For I 
feared thee, because thou art an austere man : Thou takest up 
that which thou layest not down, and reapest that which thou 
didst not sow : therefore I hid thy talent in a napkin," verses 
20 and 21. Now, what excuses more plausible than these 
could the wicked servant adopt? Yet by what means more 
effectual could he accuse himself? For Christ at once uses his 
own very words against this wicked servant, and condemns 
him out of his own mouth. And this is the very way and 
wisdom of the Holy Spirit. 

Such examples are profitable to us that we may learn not to 

contend with God. On the contrary therefore when thou feel- 

est in thine own conscience that thou art guilty, take heed with 

all thy soul that thou contend neither with God nor with men 

bv defending or excusing thy sin. Rather do this, When thou 

seest God points his spear at thee, flee not from him ; but on 

the contrary flee to him with humble confession of thy sin, and 

with prayer for his pardon. Then will God draw back his 

spear and spare thee. But when by the denial and excuse of 

thy sin thou fieest farther and farther from him, the nearer is 

God to thee as an enemy and the more closely and hotly does 

he pursue thee as such. Nothing therefore is better or safer 

for thee than to come to him at once with the confession of thy 

fault. For thus it comes to pass that, when God conquers us, 

we also conquer by him. 

But Cain and hypocrites do not this. God points his spear 
at them, but they do not humble themselves before him nor pray 
to him for pardon. Nay, they even point their spear at God, 
just as Cain did on this occasion. Cain does not say, "Lord, I 
confess that I have killed my brother ; forgive me." On the 
contrary, though being the accused, he himself accuses God 
by replying, "Am I my brother's keeper?" And what was the 



effect of his pride? By it he openly confessed that lie cared 
naught for the divine laws, which say, "Thou shalt love thy 
neighbor as thyself," Lev. 19:18. And again, "Do not unto 
another that which you would not have another do unto you," 
Math. 7:12. These laws were not first written, nor only writ- 
ten, in the Decalogue, but they were inscribed in the minds of 
all men by nature. Yet Cain not only acted directly against 
these laws, but showed that he cared naught for them, nay, 
that he absolutely despised them. 

In this, way therefore Cain stands the picture, as we have 
said, not only of a wicked man, but of a man the most wicked, 
who, though a murderer, is yet a hypocrite wishing to appear a 
saint ; being all the time one more prepared to accuse God than 
to appear worthy of accusation. And this is what all hypo- 
crites do. They blaspheme God and crucify his Son, and yet 
wish to appear righteous. For after their murders, blasphemies 
and all other sins their whole aim is to seek means whereby to 
excuse and palliate the great sins they have committed. But 
the result always is that they only betray themselves and are 
condemned out of their own mouths. 

While Cain here studies to render himself quite pure in ap- 
pearance, he most effectually and foully defiles himself. He 
thinks he has made a most plausible excuse, when he says, 
"Am I my brother's keeper?" But this very excuse becomes 
his most effectual accusation. And thus according to the say- 
ing of Hilary, "Wickedness is ever closely accompanied by fol- 
ly." And so it was in the case of Cain. Had he been as wise 
as he was wicked, he would have excused himself in quite a 
different manner. But since God has ordained that wickedness 
should thus be ever accompanied by folly, Cain's excuse be- 
comes his plain accusation. And for this very reason: The 
defense of truth against her adversaries is always easy. For 
Cain thus testified, both by his words and by his gestures, that 
he cared not for his brother, but hated him ; so all wicked' men 
by various means ever betray their wickedness. By the ex- 
ample of Cain therefore things the most important and the most 



instructive are set before us ; all of them tending to show that 
God suffers not hypocrites to remain long undiscovered, but 
that he compels them to convict themselves by those very means 
by which they craftily strive to conceal their hypocrisy and their 


Moses does not in this description use a multitude of words, 
according to the practice of the world in general ; for these in 
setting forth a subject embellish it with various striking orna- 
ments of figure and speech. But we know by experience, that 
the real feelings of the mind cannot be fully described by the 
paintings of any human eloquence. And indeed an abundance 
of words only makes the affection of the mind described to ap- 
pear less than it is in reality. Moses therefore acts quite dif- 
ferently. By the use of a very few words he discloses a great 
abundance of subject-matter. 

The divine historian above used the expression, "And when 
they were in the field." Here Moses indicates that the mur- 
derer Cain had watched his opportunity ; that when alone he 
might attack his brother, when also alone. And all the con- 
nected circumstances plainly show that Abel was not then un- 
employed, for he was in the field, where he had to do the things 
his father had given him to do. Here Moses moreover shows 
that Abel's parents were free from all fear of danger. For al- 
though from the beginning they had feared that the wrath of 
Cain would eventually break out into some still greater sin ; 
yet, by his compliance and kindness, and by his pretended af- 
fection, he prevented all suspicion of evil from remaining in the 
minds of his parents. For had there been the least apprehen- 
sion of evil still existing, they certainly would not have per- 
mitted Abel to go from their presence with Cain alone. They 
would have caused his sisters to go with him as companions, 
for some sisters he no doubt had. Or his parents themselves 
would have prevented by their presence and authority the per- 
petration of so great a wickedness. And as I said, the mind 
of Abel was perfectly free from all suspicion. For had he sus- 
pected evil at the hand of his brother in the least degree, he 



would doubtless have sought safety by flight. But after he had 
heard and seen, as he thought, that Cain bore the judgment of 
God patiently and did not envy his brother the high honor 
which God had bestowed upon him, he pursued his work in the 
field with all security. 

What orator could describe with eloquence equal to its im- 
portance the real nature of that act of Cain, which Moses ex- 
presses in these few words? "And Cain rose up against his 
brother." Many descriptions of awful cruelty exist in books 
on every side, but no description of cruelty could paint it in a 
mare atrocious and execrable light than the picture drawn by 
the few words of Moses, when he simply says, Cain "rose up 
against" his brother Abel. As if he had said, Cain rose up 
against Abel, the only brother he had, with whom he had been 
brought up and with whom he had lived in the one only family 
upon earth up to that day; all which family communion he 
utterly forgot, and not only so, but he forgot their common 
parents, also. The greatness of the grief which he would cause 
his parents by such a grave crime never entered his mind. He 
never thought that Abel was a brother, from whom he had 
never received any offense whatever. For Cain knew that the 
honor of the more acceptable sacrifice which Abel had offered, 
proceeded not from any intent or ambition in him, but from 
the will and doing of God himself. In a word Cain did not 
consider in what position he himself would be ; that by this 
wicked deed, he who had hitherto stood in the highest favor 
with his parents would lose that favor altogether and would 
fall under their deepest indignation. 

It is recorded in history that when a painter, who was paint- 
ing the story of Iphigenia, on the point of being sacrificed to 
Diana by her father, had given to each one of the surrounding 
spectators his appropriate countenance, with a latitude of art 
which might best express his pain and sorrow, he at length came 
to the father himself, who was also a spectator; but feeling 
convinced that no art of the painter could adequately represent 
his feelings and countenance, he covered his head with a 



Moses I think does the same thing in the present passage, 
when he uses the verb yakam, "Rose up against." What tragi- 
cal pictures would the eloquence of Cicero or Livy have here 
drawn, while they were strikingly portraying the wrath of the 
one brother, and the dread, the cries, the prayers, the tears, the 
uplifted hands, and all the horrors of the other; applying to 
the description all the power of their mind and language? But 
such feelings cannot be fully described by all these powers of 
eloquence. Moses therefore writes most appropriately, when 
he sets forth things so inexpressible by mere dots, as it were, 
in order that by his few words the feelings of the reader may 
be engaged to meditate on the facts the more closely and deeply 
for himself. For the vain attraction of words is like paint ap- 
plied to natural beauty ; it only mars and spoils the force of 

the reality. . . . 

Of the same expressive character are the few words which he 
next adds, "And slew him." He does not by those few words 
represent a common murder, such as we see committed by 
men in general; for they sometimes kindle quarrels from the 
most trifling causes and commit murders to the end. Sucn 
murderers however immediately after the murder is committed 
are filled with distress; they grieve for the deed they have 
done and acknowledge those delusions of the devil by which 
he blinded their minds. But Cain felt no distress ; he expressed 
no grief but denied the deed he had done. This satanic and 
insatiable hatred in hypocrites is described by Christ by saying, 
"When they kill you, they will think that they do God service, 
John 16:2. So the priests and the kings filled Jerusalem with 
the blood of the prophets and gloried in what they did, as if 
their deeds were great and successful exploits; for they con- 
sidered such murders as proofs of their zeal for the law and 

the house of God. 

And the furious cruelty of the popes and the hishops in our 
day is just the same. They are not satisfied with having ex- 
communicated us again and again, and with having shed our 
blood but they wish to blot out our memory from the land ot 



the living-; according to the description of such hatred ex- 
pressed in the words of the Psalm, "Rase it, rase it, even to the 
foundation thereof," Ps. 137 7, These instances of hatred are 
satanic, not human ; for all forms of human hatred grow into 
mildness by time ; and after we have avenged the offense and 
pain given, the hatred at length ceases. But these instances of 
Pharisaic hatred increase in virulence day by day; and for 
this very reason, because they are justified under the cloak of 
religion and godly zeal. Cain therefore is the father of all 
murderers, who slaughter the saints and whose wrath knows 
no end, as long as there remains one saint for them to kill. 
All this is proycd by the example even of the crucified Christ 
himself. For as to Cain, there is no doubt of his having hoped 
that by putting Abel to death, he should still hold the high 
honor of his first birthright. And in the same way the ungodly 
always think that their cruelty will profit them fa some way. 
But when they find that their hope is vain they at once fall like 
Cain into despair. 

Now when the fact of this atrocious murder was made 
known to the parents, what do we think must have been the 
dreadful feelings which it excited? What the lamentation? 
What sighs and groans it caused? But I dwell not on these 
things; they are rather scenes for the eloquent and able orator 
to describe. I will only observe that it was a marvel that both 
parents were not struck lifeless with pain and grief. For the 
calamity was rendered the greater by the fact that their first- 
born, who had created in them such large hopes concerning 
himself, was the perpetrator of such a horrible murder. If 
therefore Adam and Eve had not been helped from above, they 
could never have surmounted this family calamity ; for it was 
a catastrophe exceeding all catastrophes the world has ever 
known. And hence Adam and Eve were without that consola- 
tion which we may have under sudden and unexpected 
calamities, which consolation is that like evils have befallen 
others and have not come upon us alone. But our first parents 
had two sons only, though I believe that they had daughters 


42 T 

also; and therefore they had not the many examples before 
them which are always before our eyes. 

Who can doubt however that Satan by this new kind of 
temptation in Cain increased greatly the grief and trial of our 
first parents? For they no doubt thought, Behold this is all 
our sin. We, when in paradise, wished to become like God ; 
but by our sin we are become like the devil. The very same 
thing has befallen tis, in the case of our son. We loved this son 
alone and made everything of him. Our other son Abel was 
righteous before us, above this son; but of his righteousness 
we made nothing. This elder son we hoped would be he who 
should crush the serpent's head; but behold ! he himself is 
crushed by the serpent 1 Nay, he himself is become like the 
serpent, for he is now a murderer. And whence is this? Is it 
not because he was born of us, and because we through our 
sin are what we are? Therefore it is from our flesh, therefore 
it is from our sin, that this calamity has broken forth! 

It is very probable therefore, and the events of the series 
of years which followed confirm this probability, that the sor- 
rowing parents, struck with the awfulness of this calamity, 
abstained for a long time from connubial intercourse. For it 
appears that when Cain committed this murder he was about 
thirty years of age, more or less. During this period some 
daughters were born unto Adam. For since it is said below, 
V. 17, that "Cain knew his wife," there is no doubt that he 
married a sister. Moreover since Cain himself says, V. 14, 
"And it shall come to pass that everyone that findeth me shall 
slay me;" and as it is further said, V- 15, "And the Lord set a 
mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him ;" it ap- 
pears most probable from all these circumstances that Adam 
had many more children than Cain and Abel, but these two 
only are mentioned on account of the important and memorable 
history concerning them and because those two were their 
first and principal children. For it is my full belief that the 
marriage of our first parents, during the first thirty years of 
their union, was most fruitful. In some books the names 



Calmana and Dibora are found as being daughters of Adam; 
but I know not whether such authors are worthy of any 
credit. As therefore Seth is recorded as having been begotten 
a long time after this awful murder, it seems to me very prob- 
able that the parents, distressed beyond measure at this mon- 
strous family crime, refrained for a long time from marriage 
communion. Moses does not indeed touch upon all these 
things in his narrative ; he intimates them only in order that 
he might excite, as we have said, the reader to a deep con- 
sideration of this memorable history, the circumstances of 
winch he records in the fewest possible words, as if presenting 
them to be seen as through a lattice. 

But I return to the text now immediately before us. Cain is 
an evil and a wicked man, and yet in the eyes of his parents 
he is a divine possession and a divine gift. Abel on the con- 
trary is in the eyes of his parents and in their estimation as 
nothing, according to the signification of his name ; but in the 
eyes of God he is truly a righteous man; hence it is that Christ 
himself honors him with this exalted appellation, when he 
calls him, "Righteous Abel I" Math. 23:35. This was the 
divine judgment concerning Abel, which Cain could not en- 
dure, and therefore he thought that the only manner in which 
his hatred of his brother could be satisfied was by murder. 
And he moreover thought that by this awful means he could 
still retain the high honor of his primogeniture. But he was far 
from thinking that he committed a great sin by this murder; 
because as being the first-born he thought he had a right to do 
this. He killed him therefore as I think, not with a sword, for 
I conclude that there were, as yet, no iron weapons, but with a 
club or with some kind of stone. 

And after the murder, Cain remained quiet and unconcerned 
for he thought that the deed would be concealed by hiding the 
body, which he buried, or perhaps he cast it into a river, con- 
sidering that by such means he could rest the more sure that 
the body could not be found by his parents. 

When Abe! therefore had been from home a longer time than 



he had been accustomed to be, the Holy Spirit inspires Adam 
to utter the words of the text and to inquire of Cain conccri.- 
L Abel saying, "Where is Abel thy brother?" Here therefore 
2 « Xe prophecy of Adam ^f wbich we have^ 
before, begins to be fulfilled; where he had said, If not in 
fieth a the door." For Cain thought that he had concealed 1 b. 
sin and had laid it to rest, and that all would thus be hidden 
And true it was that his sin did lie at rest; but it lay at rest 
"at the door." And who now openeth the door? Lone other 
than the Lord himself. He rouses up and wakens the sleeping 
sin He brings the hidden sin to light. 

And the same thing must be fulfilled in all sinners. For «m- 
less by repentance thou first come to God and thyself confess 
thy sin to God, God will surely come to thee, awake thy sm 
and discover it to thee. For God cannot endure that anyone 
should deny the sin that he has committed; as *»£*£* 
also testifies, "When I kept silence, my bones ««*"£ 
through my roaring all the day long. For da, > and m ghU 
hand was heavy upon me; my moisture was changed as with 
thT drought of summer," P.. 3**, 4- For although sin hath 
Us sleep and its security ; yet that sleep is "at the door," which 
cannot long remain unawakencd or hidden. 

When Moses here says, "And the Lord said unto Cam, 
Where is Abel thy brother?" I understand Moses to mean as 
alov that it was'Adam who spoke by the Holy Spirit » the 
Person or place of God; and that God there assumed the per- 
son oi a father speaking to his son. This sacred phraseology 
herefore, "And the Lord said," etc., is intended as thus used 
bv the Holy Spirit to commend the high authority of parents, 
whom when children dutifully hear and dutifully obey, they 
Tear God and obey God. And I believe that Adam knew by 
Z revelation of the Holy Spirit, that Abel had been slam by 
his brother; for he spoke at once concerning the murder 
"What has thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood cneth 
unto me from the ground;" although Cain all the tune en- 
deavored to conceal the deed. 





I. And if Eve heard these words spoken to Cain by his 
father ; what do we think must have been the grief and horror 
of her mind ! They must indeed have been beyond all descrip- 
tion. But the calamity fell still nearer and heavier upon Adam 
himself. For as he was the father, he was compelled as his 
duty thus to rebuke his son and to excommunicate him from 
his family and from the Church of God for his sin. And 
although he did not slay him, for the law concerning punishing 
a murderer by death, which is pronounced hereafter in the 
ninth chapter, was given after the patriarchs saw murders be- 
coming frequent ; and though inspired by the Holy Spirit so to 
do, he even "set a mark upon his son, lest anyone finding him 
should kill him ;" yet it was an awful punishment which was in- 
flicted on Cain and upon all his posterity. For in addition to 
the personal curse of bearing about this mark of a murderer he 
was excommunicated from his family, driven from the sight of 
his parents and from the society of his brothers and sisters, 
who still continued with their parents, as in the Church of God! 

Now Adam could not have performed all this awful duty 
without the deepest pain; nor could Eve have heard all that 
Adam said without the same indescribable anguish. For a fath- 
er is a father, and a son is a son. Adam therefore would will- 
ingly have spared his son and would willingly have retained him 
at home. And we do now sometimes see murderers reconciled 
to tlie brothers of those whom they have murdered. But in this 
terrible case no place was left for reconciliation. Cain is bidden 
at once to be a vagabond upon the face of the earth. The pain 
therefore of the parents was doubled. They see one of their 
sons slain by the other; and now they see the slayer excom- 
municated by the judgment of God and cut off forever from the 
society of the rest of his brethren. 

Moreover when we here speak of excommunication from the 
Church, you are not to have in mind our present Churches, 



magnificent structures superbly built with carved stones. The 
temple or Church of Adam was a certain tree, as in parade ; or 
a certain little hill under the open heaven, at which they assem- 
bled together to hear the Word of God and to offer their sacri- 
fices for which purpose they had altars erected, and God was 
present with them when they thus offered their sacrifices and 
heard his Word, as is manifest from the divine presence at the 

offering of Abel. 

And other portions of sacred history testify that altars were 
erected in the open air and that sacrifices were there offered. 
And indeed the same practice for man)' reasons would be use- 
ful even now ; that we might assemble together in the open air 
pray with bended knees, preach the Word, give thanks to God 
and bless each other, etc. It was from a temple of this kmd 
and from such a Church, not a conspicuous and magnificent 
Church in a certain place, that Cain was ejected or excommuni- 
cated He was thus doubly punished ; first, by a corporal pun- 
ishment, because he was cursed as a vagabond in the earth with 
the mark of a murderer set upon him ; and secondly, by a spirit- 
ual punishment, because he was cast out by excommunication 
as from another paradise, and ejected from the temple and 

Church of God. 

Lawyers also have made much use of this passage of the 
holy Scriptures, and have treated it with becoming dignity, 
seeing, as they did, that the Lord inquired into the matter be- 
fore he passed condemnation upon the murderer. The Scrip- 
ture therefore the framers of laws have so applied, as to de- 
termine thereby, that no man should be condemned until his 
cause had been fully known; nor until he had first been called 
to the bar of judgment, had been convicted, and had confessed 
his guilt. We have seen the same also before in the case of 
Adam. "And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto 
him Where art thou?" Gen. 3 -9- And a S ain furthcr on ' "* 
will' go down now, and see whether they have done altogether 
according to the cry of it, which is come unto me ; and if not, 
I will know," Gen. 11:5; 18:21. 



Let us however, leaving for the present all civil and political 
doctrine, look at the all-blessed theological or divine doctrine 
and consolation, contained in this, when it is recorded that the 
Lord inquired for Abel after his death. For in this fact we 
have made manifest unto us the resurrection of the dead. Be- 
cause God by this inquiry testified that he was the God of Abel, 
though now dead ; for he inquired after him though now slain 
and no more. From this passage therefore we may frame this 
most immovable argument; that if there were no one who 
had the care of us after this life, Abel would not have been 
inquired for after he was slain. But God does here inquire af- 
ter Abel, even after he is taken away out of this life, he has not 
a will to forget him, he still retains the remembrance of him ; 
he asks "Where he is." God therefore we see is the God of 
the dead. My meaning is that even the dead, as we here see, 
still live in the memory of God and have a God who cares for 
them, and saves them in another life beyond and different from 
this corporal life in which saints are thus afflicted. 

This passage therefore we repeat is most worthy our observa- 
tion, in which we see that God had great care of Abel, even 
when dead ; and that on account of Abel though dead he ex- 
communicated Cain, and visited him with destruction even 
while living, though he was the first-born. This therefore is 
great and glorious indeed, that Abel though dead was still 
alive and canonized, as we call it, in another life ; a canoniza- 
tion far more blessed and more really divine than is the state 
of any of those whom the Pope has ever canonized ! The death 
of Abel was indeed horrible ; for he did not suffer death with- 
out excruciating torment nor without many agonies of tears. 
And yet his death was a goodly death ; for now he lives a better 
and more blessed life than he did before. For this corporal 
life of ours is lived in sins and is ever in danger of death. But 
that life which is to come is eternal and perfectly free from all 
trials and troubles, both of the body and of the soul. 

No! God does not inquire after the sheep and the oxen that 
are slain, but he does inquire after the men who are slain. Men 



therefore have the hope of a resurrection. They have a God 
who inquires after them, even after their death in the flesh, 
and who brings them back from that death unto eternal life, a 
God who inquires after their blood as most "precious" to him, 
as the Psalmist also says, "Precious in the sight of Jehovah is 
the death of his saints," Ps. 116:15, 

This inquiry for the saints after their death and this their 
resurrection, are the glory of the human race, obtained for it 
by the Seed of the woman, which bruised the serpent's head. 
And the case of Abel is the first example of this promise which 
was made to Adam and Eve; and by this example God showed 
that the serpent harmed not Abel, although he caused him to 
be thus murdered by his brother. This was indeed an instance 
of the serpent's "bruising the heel" of the woman's Seed. But 
when he attempted to bite his head, that is, his life, he himself 
was crushed. For God, in answer to Abel's faith in the prom- 
ised Seed, required his blood after his death and proved him- 
self thereby to be Abel's God still. This is all proved by what 


V. 10. And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of 
thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. 

Cain's sin hath hitherto lain "at the door." And the preced- 
ing circumstances plainly show how hard he struggled to keep 
his sin asleep. For, being interrogated by his father concerning 
his brother Abel, and his father having asked him where he 
was, he adds to his murder absolute falsehood. And this an- 
swer of Cain moreover shows that the words of the inquiry 
were spoken by Adam in his own person, and not in the person 
of the divine Majesty. For Cain considers that the deed was 
hidden from his father, of course as being mere man, but he 
could not have so thought concerning the divine Majesty. 
Therefore had it been God who had spoken to him in his own 
proper divine Person, he would have returned a different ans- 
wer. But as he thought that he was speaking to a man only he 
denied the deed he had done altogether, saying, "I know not." 
As if he had added, There are numerous perils by which a man 



may perish. He may be destroyed by wild beasts; he may be 
drowned in some river ; or he may lose his life by some other 

And Cain no doubt thought that his father would imagine 
any other death of Abel than that his own brother had per- 
petrated such a deed as to murder him. But Cain could not 
deceive the Holy Spirit in Adam. Adam therefore then speaks 
openly in the person of God and at once convicts him of the 
murder, saying, "What hast thou done?" As if he had said, 
"Why dost thou persist in denying the deed ; be assured that 
thou canst not deceive God, who hath revealed to me all. Thou 
thinkest that the blood of thy brother is hidden by the earth 
with which thou hast concealed it. But it is not so absorbed 
by the earth and concealed by it as to prevent its crying aloud 
unto God" Thus did Adam by the Spirit of God indeed wake 
in Cain his sin lying asleep "at the door," and drae it forth 
to light. 

The text now before us therefore is full of consolation to the 
saints to support them against the enemies and murderers of 
the Church ; for it teaches us that our afflictions and sufferings 
and the shedding of our blood, fill heaven and earth with their 
dies. I believe therefore that Cain was so terror-struck in his